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Threat of strike at BBC recedes

THE BBC appears to have averted a strike by education staff by offering job guarantees if a re-organisation goes ahead, writes Chris Johnston.

The broadcaster wants to disband the education department - which makes schools programmes - and move staff to either a new factual and learning department or the children's department.

The broadcasting union BECTU had balloted over industrial action and appealed to Chris Smith, the Culture Secretary, who is responsible for the BBC, to stop the shake-up. A spokesman said members' views were being sought this week on the BBC offer to secure jobs if staff move.

Broadcasting staff have also reportedly felt sidelined by an ambitious plan to deliver curriculum materials to schools on-line. P> The BBC wants to spend pound;135 million to deliver resources for the national curriculum over the Internet. Mr Smith must approve the plan before it can go ahead.

Frank Flynn, the BBC's controller of education for children, told The TES that television and radio, as well as print, would continue to be vital components of its educational output.

But he said that the BBC would be left behind if it did not start to offer curriculum materials to add to popular on-line revision materials such as Bytesize.

Commercial educational software producers are also angry at the proposal, claiming that it is wrong for the BBC to use public money to compete with them.

BBC digital curriculum proposal:

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