PICK OF THE WEEK.
In the summer, Lenny Henry brought a little gloss to matters educational by starring in a drama about a miserable, failing school. Hope and Glory drew attention to some of the critical issues involved, especially that of teachers struggling against insurmountable odds.
Channel 4 has spent a year filming in the real thing, Blakelaw Comprehensive in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which was closed in 1 998 after being dubbed one of the worst schools in Britain. Instead of Lenny to the rescue though, came new head Carole McAlpine, a new name y Firfield Community School y and pound;3 million from the government to turn the place around. Did it work? Over six weeks we follow the trials of Carole McAlpine and co as they try to persuade a cohort of disaffected children that staying at school really could change their lives. See next week's Friday Magazine for the inside story.
Making the Grade.
At the beginning of the term, Channel 4 took to the air in a helicopter for Eureka:
Flying Through History. It is repeating the trick for Place and People:
Aimed at GCSE geography students, this series will take a new perspective on fluvial, glacial and marine erosion and the way the physical landscape affects human activity. This is not just achieved by aerial photography, the programmes are presented by an engaging 1 8-year-old student, Eliot Brown, who is out in all weathers to explain the processes that shape land.
Take the river Tees. Eliot heads for the squelching, boggy mass of the the Cumbrian moorlands to find its source, then tracks it to the sea, taking in all its manifestations on the way. Eliot's enthusiasm is infectious "This is a superb piece of physical geography," he says with feeling besides some pectacularly spuming falls.
Our multi-faceted landscape has rarely looked more alive. As with many of Channel 4 Schools programmes now, the only teacher support material available is on the Internet y great if you have access to a PC, a pain if not.
Teachers may also be interested to know there's a CD-Rom called Maps and Mapping (pound;29.99 from 01 926 436446).
Place and People: Landforms.
Mondays, 10.30-1 0.50am.
BEST OF THE REST.
Creatures that hail from the Jim Henson stable are always memorable: from the funky menagerie of Mopatop's Shop to celebrity Muppets and many other peculiar species that populate such films as The Dark Crystal. The latest inventions are not so much flesh and blood as hot metal y Construction Site is a new series for children that features an animatronic cast of building machines that trundle about shifting sacks of cement and sand.
With a couple of powerful female role models (Carrie the forklift truck and Maxine the cement mixer) this combination of animated hardware has more sass than Thomas the Tank Engine even if its storylines are not that strong at times. Young children will no doubt be enthralled.