On your marks, get set, video

Tes Editorial

The new term's programmes for schools television begin on September 18, offering support for primary and secondary classes The BBC has taken the United States and Channel 4 has taken Russia as the subjects for their autumn schools television geography blockbusters, with the promise of state-of-the-art photography and graphics illustrating the vastness of the North American continent and the turbulence of the post-Communist Russian Federation.

Other autumn highlights include Channel 4's major new series for primary English, Book Box, which will focus on reading and writing. Also helping with English skills, for deaf children, is the BBC's Moving to English, which is presented in British Sign Language.

Geography USA 2000 Age group 11-16. BBC2, Wednesday, September 20, 1.00pm. Free resources guide; photopack, Pounds 5; videopack, Pounds 39.99. Information from BBC Education, - 0181 746 1111.

Following on from the success of Japan 2000, this four-part series looks at the physical and human geography of the United States.

Urban and rural locations are investigated, with the first episode, "City on the Edge", looking at Los Angeles, a city of 14.5 million people built between two mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Although the city continues to draw migrants, particularly from Mexico and Asia, the programme looks at the physical tensions that brought on the city's earthquake in 1994 and the social tensions that led to the riots of 1992.

In the second programme, "Life Blood of the West The Colorado River," there is an exploration of the social and political significance of water, and the rival claims of agriculture and cities.

The series also looks at the changing fortunes of the United States' car industry, based on the city of Detroit on the shores of the Great Lakes, and how people have retreated from the anxieties of the city to unspoilt corners of America.

Geographical Eye The New Russia.

Age group: 11-14. Channel 4, November 2, night-time block transmission 04.00-05.40am.

Study guide, Pounds 4.95. Educational Television Company, - 01926 433333.

The geography of Russia, at a time of continuous political upheaval, is considered in this new five-part series, with case studies showing its agriculture, industry, communications, population and environmental management. The location footage and the narration of a young guide are supplemented with graphics and film recorded from space.

The huge diversity of this vast country is considered, with reports from locations that include the country's biggest population centre in Moscow, the working lives of people in the Siberian coalfield, Europe's longest river the Volga, the prairie lands of the Steppes of North Caucusus and the ecological impact of urbanisation and industry in the Arctic Circle.

African Portraits Age group: 16 plus. BBC2, Wednesdays, 12 noon. September 20.

Free programme guide. BBC Education, - 0181 746 1111.

A five-part series looking at young African artists, including musicians, photographers, an actress and a dancer, with an overall intention to provide a positive image of the continent and its people. In the first programme, "Positive Black Soul," a rap band from Senegal is followed as they sign up with a record label and set out on their musical career.

Also featured in the series is how photographers try to depict the post-apartheid society of South Africa, in the setting of Johannesburg. Another young South African is followed in her bid to become an actress and her enrolment with a drama project.

English Book Box Age group: 7-11. Channel 4, Monday, September 18, 9.45am. Repeated Wednesdays, 9.45am. Teacher's guide, Pounds 3.95. Story books, "Pigeon Summer", "Cliffhanger", "Children of Winter", Pounds 3.50 each. Videos, "Cliffhanger" and "Children of Winter", Pounds 14.99 each. Educational Television Company, - 01926 433333.

A new series, replacing Talk, Write and Read, which will provide dramatisations of texts and new dramas, designed to encourage development in reading. While Talk, Write and Read covered all aspects of the English 7-11 curriculum, Book Box will concentrate on literature.

John Richmond, deputy commissioning editor for Channel 4 Schools, intends that "Book Box will develop over the next few years a repertoire of literature, classic and contemporary, naturalistic and fantastic, humorous and serious. "

The series begins with a four-part adaptation of Pigeon Summer, a novel by Ann Turnbull set in a Shropshire mining town in the Thirties, in which a girl develops a passion for racing pigeons. Later in the term will be re-runs of Cliffhanger and Children of Winter, with more new dramas for the spring term.

The English Programme The Reel Truth Age group: 1417. Channel 4, Monday, September 18, 10.40am. Study guide, Pounds 4.95. Educational Television Company, - 01926 433333.

Marking the centenary of cinema, this four-part series looks at how illusion and fakery have long been part of film making, taking as its examples documentary movies made in the early years of the century. Among the themes explored will be how war footage was manipulated for propaganda purposes, how politicians used the camera's potential for reaching audiences and also how ordinary people and everyday work and leisure were not considered as subjects for factual film making. The programme is also suitable for history and media studies.

History Landmarks: Victorian Britain Age group: 9-12. BBC2, Monday, September 18, 1.20pm. Teacher's notes, Pounds 2.75, Video Plus Victorian Britain resource pack, Pounds 36. Victorians Resource Pack, Pounds 9.99. BBC Education, - 0181 746 1111.

Life in the town and country in Victorian Britain is considered in the new units of this well-established series. The inventions and discoveries and industrial development that characterised the era are also looked at this term.

Special Needs Moving to English Age group: upper primary-lower secondary. BBC2, Wednesday, September 20, 11.40am. Teacher's notes, Pounds 3. BBC Education, - 0181 746 1111.

The first television series to teach the curriculum using British Sign Language, while also developing written English skills. The programme features a group of deaf children who meet historical figures who were deaf, learning about science and technology from Thomas Edison, who was deaf from the age of 12. The series also addresses history and art. Kerena Marchant, series producer, says that deaf children in hearing families "often live for years without language as they struggle to acquire lip-reading skills and written English. And because they are spending all their time trying to master English, they don't acquire the grounding in the basic subjects, like history, science or maths, that hearing children develop".

SCIENCE Making Sense of Science In-service training for primary teachers. Channel 4, Wednesday, September 20, 10.15am.

Teacher's notes, 64-page book available free, one per school. Educational Television Company, - 01926 433333.

The aim of this new series is to develop teachers' confidence and understanding of science, with clear explanations and everyday applications. The 10-part series will consider topics including forces, materials, light and sound. The experiments suggested in the programmes also promise to make "modest demands on resources". The project is receiving support from the Department of Trade and Industry.

BBC Primary Science Age group: 5-11. BBC2. Teacher's manual for whole year, Pounds 9.99 for each series. BBC Education - 0181 746 1111.

The second year of this science project, designed to provide material across the whole primary age range, has new programmes for its four stages and for in-service training. Cats' Eyes, BBC2, Wednesday, September 20, 10.45am, returns with eight 15-minute programmes for infants, teaching science with the help of cat puppets.

The Experimenter, BBC2, Thursday, September 21, 10.45am has four 20-minute science programmes for junior school. Science Zone, BBC2, Tuesday, September 19, 10.45am, teaches about how science is used in the wider world, with four 20-minute programmes for upper primary. Space Ark, BBC2, Tuesday, September 19, 11.05am, develops scientific processes at the 7-11 age range.

Teaching Today, BBC2, Tuesday, September 19, 1pm, has several units this term dedicated to teaching primary science, including film of how children talk to one another while working on classroom activities.

modern languages Le Petit Monde de Pierre Age group: 9-12. Channel 4, Thursday, September 21, 10.45am.

Transcripts, Pounds 4.95.

Educational Television Company, - 01926 433333.

A 10-part series which presents the story of a young French boy, Pierre, and his imaginary friend, a king, who can make the impossible possible. Their adventures are the basis for introducing French vocabulary and grammar.

The Spanish Programme La Catrina Age group: 14-19. Channel 4, Thursday, September 21, 11.40am. Transcripts, Pounds 4.95. Educational Television Company, - 01926 433333.

A series which teaches Spanish through a romantic thriller, in which a young woman from Los Angeles returns to her family's home town in Mexico to discover that she is heir to a fortune. The dialogue is in clearly-enunciated standard Spanish, with language review sections being included with the drama.

VOCATIONAL EDUCATION GNVQ2 Age group: 16 plus. BBC2, Monday, October 30, 12 noon. Free programme guide, BBC Education, - 0181 746 1111.

This series supports the core skills common to GNVQs, including communication, application of number and information technology.

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