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TV shorts give children a taste of 'big school'

A DOCUMENTARY for four-year-olds will run on Channel 5 next week, aimed at revealing the truth about "big school".

Pre-school children tuning into their usual morning TV diet of friendly presenters and cartoon characters will also be faced with a 10-minute short showing children their age playing, learning and being told off for running in class.

Sallyann Keizer, series producer and managing director of production company Sixth Sense, said: "The aim was to truly reflect what the children's experiences were for a term."

The 40-part series is part of the Milkshake slot. It starts on Sunday with an episode showing Elliott's first day at Bedgrove Infant school in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. The cameras show Elliott getting ready at home, putting on his jacket and arriving in the playground.

The programme is shot from a child's viewpoint, showing teacher Liz Fenner, who is head of foundation stage, asking whether the children have their lunchboxes, showing them where the coat pegs are and explaining the class rules.

Ms Fenner, 46, was filmed every day for a term. "It was like having Ofsted in; you are watched all the time," she said. "Every morning, I would meet the filmmakers and let them know what was coming up.

"I'd tell them what I was doing in literacy or that we'd be covering friendship in personal, social and emotional development. I became oblivious to the cameras. I would turn and trip over a cameraman because I'd forgotten he was there."

She found children were fascinated by watching themselves and friends on television when clips were shown to the class. She thought the programme would go down well."It will be helpful to children starting school," she said.

"The routines are similar everywhere. Where do I put my lunchbox? Where do I hang my coat? Where are the toilets? These are things that concern children."

Ms Keizer said: "It was a fascinating school with a very inspiring approach. We needed a teacher who had enough confidence to be permanently watched; most would find it a nightmare.

"The children were fabulous, there were some lovely moments. Certainly from my time at Bedgrove it made you long to go to school and that's how it should be."

* Big School will run during 'Milkshake', the three-hour pre-school slot on Channel 5, from September 2

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