TV feast with all the trimmings

2nd January 2004 at 00:00
Once again, the TES Scotland has received details for an education theme night on BBC Scotland over the festive season. We are reluctant to publish these programme notes because every time we have done so before, the broadcasts have been withdrawn at the last minute. However, we are reliably assured that this year will be different. So sit back and enjoy

6.00pm Scrapheap Challenge Two teams from East Lothian are asked to make a completely new school from piles of junk that they find lying around a builder's yard or, as it's otherwise known, a local public private partnership school.

6.30 Holiday Swap The McLean family swaps holidays with the McFarlanes, with interesting consequences.

The McLeans, a family of four with two children in S1 and S3 respectively, have planned a cut-price May fortnight in Florida, when the children are supposed to be in school. The McFarlanes are both teachers, so they have to take their holiday - also in Florida - in July and it costs them three times as much despite having no children. So it's a roller coaster swap - at least in financial terms - when the McFarlanes leave all their classes behind in May to have the time of their lives, saving enough for two extra holidays in the school break, and the McLeans have to go in July.

"It's not fair!" complains Mrs McLean. "We should be able take our kids out of school and go on holiday whenever we want.

"I wish we'd never put our names down for your stupid programme."

7.00 Friends The inspectors call on the education authority.

Things aren't the same as they used to be when the inspectors come to call.

In the past, the inspectors were authority figures who were out to measure educationists against a strict set of criteria. Nowadays, it's all a lot more chummy.

Graham's team joins the directorate in the coffee shop and they agree to a set of achievable goals which will ensure that any press releases are "positive enhanced", with more "Good" than "Fair" marks and as many "Very Good" comments as decency will allow.

7.30 A Question of Sport The Education Minister makes yet another announcement that bemoans the loss of team sports in schools and worries about the long-term consequences for the health of children by not having regular access to playing fields as part of the curriculum.

Followed immediately by Supermarket Sweep A revealing documentary that charts the staggering quantities of income derived from selling off school playing fields to supermarket chains in order to finance shortfalls in education services.

8.00 School Idol Schools compete to see who will be this year's top school. The twist is there is no Simon Cowell and no telephone voting. In this competition, the schools all judge themselves, using the latest How Good Is Our School? indicators.

Everyone's a winner by these indicators. Every school turns out to be absolutely brilliant, with Quality Awards dished out left, right and centre in an extended prize-giving ceremony.

8.30 FILM Brief Encounter starring David Fraser, former chief executive of the Scottish Qualifications Authority, and Cathy Jamieson, former Education Minister.

The story is told in flashback, as David wipes a speck of dust from Cathy's eye in a Dalkeith waiting room. She finds herself falling for his charms and offering him the world if only he gets the SQA results out on time in future. But times change and the relationship can't last forever. Cathy leaves soon after their eponymous encounter and David begins to realise that promises made about the future can easily be broken when her place in the waiting room is taken by somebody else.

9.30 That was Then, This is Now A reworking of the S. E. Hinton screenplay, starring Frank Pignatelli, chief executive of Learndirect Scotland.

It used to be fun being in charge of a big gang, recalls Frankie, but it's not the same when the action is split among lots of smaller gangs with too many different leaders.

"These people aren't needed to run the country's education services!" urges the hero. Give the job to a responsible national body. Have you ever heard of Learndirect Scotland, for example?"

10.30 FILM It's a Wonderful Life The hardy perennial gets another airing this festive season, but with an education twist.

For 10 years, Brian has been a principal teacher of physical education on a downward spiral of hope, with no chance of promotion and on the same pay as all the other PTs in his school. But last year Brian had a life-changing experience, when he suddenly got an enormous pay rise for doing exactly the same job as he was doing before, while most of the other PTs in his school were left on the same salary or faced a cut and got their jobs down-sized at the same time.

"I've suddenly realised that life really is worth living and isn't as awful as I thought," he says tactlessly at a cluster group meeting.

Unfortunately the headteacher of his associated primary school now earns less than her depute and so begs to disagree. An emotional final scene ensues.

11.30 The Million Pound Property Experiment How can you become a property millionaire in just a year, starting with nothing? It's easy, explain two anonymous bankers from their luxury offices: just make a lot of promises about climate controlled buildings with whiteboards and information technology suites, then get some mugs to sign up to the scheme and pay you lots of money and then declare yourself bankrupt and start again under a different name in another education authority a few months later. You'll hit pound;1 million before you can say portable classroom!

11.55 Life's Laundry A special schools' edition of the life-changing programme that advises you on how to declutter.

Is your school full of old policies that are never going to be used again? Are your filing cabinets full of initiatives from the local authority or the old Scottish Office education department? Policies such as Munn and Dunning, TVEI and SCOTVEC? Things that were fashionable once but are now completely out of date after having had vast sums spent on them? Let the experts come into your school to give it a good clear-out!

What about the more recent icons of educational fashion, such as the Howie Report or the Great Education Debate of 2002? Or 5-14? Even 3-18? They might be popular today but they'll just gather dust on your shelves while you try to get on with the job of teaching the children sitting in front of you. So why not just declutter your life by throwing them all away now before you waste any more time on them.

12.25am Songs of Praise Matt MacIver, registrar of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, offers up thanks for continuing professional development. "At last, we've got something that justifies the existence of the GTC, other than chucking out the weirdos."

Hymns include "Praise My Soul, Let's Get a Diploma", "Will You Come to the In-Service, Will You Come, Will You Come?" and (from Hymns for the Age of Electronic Delivery) "All My Hope Online is Founded".

12.55 Ring Out the New! Ring In the Old!

A New Year's special: Douglas Osler, former HM senior chief inspector of education, takes a revisionist view of the curriculum from the safer perspective of an index-linked pension.

"Modern languages is a complete waste of time," he argues, "and so is geography. What we need in schools are the core subjects that are vital for tomorrow's citizens, namely history and English. And history, of course."

1.15 Late Call Reflections for the New Year from Peter Peacock, the Education Minister, as he asks a question on the lips of classroom teachers throughout the land:

"Learning and Teaching Scotland: is that the greatest oxymoron of them all?"

1.30 Close

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