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Children's Television by Alistair McGown
Introduction Scheduling Puppets Merchandise Long-running Presenters
Drama Youth Imports Schools    
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Still from Look and Read

Look and Read (BBC, 1967-)

While programmes from How to Why Don't You...? educated and informed children as they entertained, those aimed directly at Schools and Colleges were made to tighter guidelines, with detailed input and feedback from teachers and educational committees. The School Broadcasting Council oversaw BBC series and the Educational Advisory Council advised ITV. Both bodies regularly met to discuss future plans and avoid duplication of programmes.

The BBC tried a four-week schools television experiment in May 1952, and regular weekday services arrived on BBC and ITV in Autumn 1957. It was hoped these would cover a lack of specialist teachers in some schools and introduce both fresh curriculum material and new teaching approaches. Supporting teacher's notes suggested classwork to try after watching the programmes. The service was not universally welcomed at first; one distinguished headmaster warned "a television set... would enter my school over my dead body."

Schools broadcasts 'borrowed' all the tricks of regular children's television to attract and hold pupils' interest, including animation, comedy sketches, drama and music. There were many puppet presenters in series such as Let's Read... With Basil Brush (ITV, 1982-83). Look and Read (BBC, 1967-present) taught word skills using exciting cliffhanging serials, while the dramatised historical recreations of How We Used To Live (ITV, 1968-present) brought British history to life.

All subjects were covered over the years, from maths (Maths-In-A-Box, BBC, 1980), science (Science Workshop, BBC, 1981-2) and geography (Near and Far, BBC, 1976-8), to sex education (Living and Growing, ITV, 1968-91) and citizenship (the various Scene dramas for school-leavers, BBC, 1968-97).

Schools programmes moved from BBC1 to BBC2 in Autumn 1983 and from ITV to Channel Four in Autumn 1987 (the strand's now titled 4Learning) as daytime television for adult viewers began on the main channels.

75 per cent of secondary schools had video recorders by 1980 and taping programmes made timetabling viewing far easier. Today, videotaped television broadcasts can be used alongside supporting materials from websites such as the BBC's Bitesize Revision.

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