Teachers' TV launch snub

11th February 2005 at 00:00
It may cost pound;20 million a year but the Education Secretary avoided its opening and the school standards minister preferred to bend it like Beckham, reports Michael Shaw

The world's first television channel dedicated to teachers went on air this week - to a varied response from the profession.

Reaction among school staff who tuned into the first hours of Teachers' TV was divided (see below).

Producers at the 24-hour digital channel were unable to estimate the viewer numbers, but said their website had been so overloaded with visitors it had crashed temporarily.

Teachers' TV costs pound;18 million a year of taxpayers' money and has had strong backing from senior civil servants. Some channel staff say they fear ministers are trying to distance themselves from the project in case it fails, however.

Producers said the latest snub was the last-minute decision to send Derek Twigg, the new education junior minister, to launch the station instead of a more senior colleagues.

Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, was unable to attend while Stephen Twigg, school standards minister, cancelled in favour of a photo opportunity with England soccer captain David Beckham.

Among those who did attend the launch at London Studios was Bob Geldof, musician, anti-poverty campaigner and founder of media business Ten Alps.

Ten Alps is the parent company of Brook Lapping, part of the consortium running Teachers' TV.

Sir Bob said he was not concerned about ministers' attitudes as the channel would be more popular with teachers if they saw it as independent of the Government.

"I feel the same excitement about this as when we launched the Big Breakfast," he said. "Digital television shouldn't just be about music and pornography."

The former Boomtown Rats singer said that Teachers' TV would, however, not have helped when he worked briefly as an English teacher in Spain, because he had been "a bit of a hippy".

But Sir Bob said he believed he would find the channel more interesting now, as a father of four daughters. "I'm one of those saddoes who sits up late and watches Open University programmes," he said.

* michael.shaw@tes.co.uk

Leader 22 Teachers' TV listings are published in TESTeacher magazine and at www.teachers.tv

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