BBC unveils biggest education push “in its history”

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The BBC has announced a major investment in education programming, to support schools during the lockdown.

The programmes will ensure that “every child in the UK” has the opportunity to continue with their school curriculum. They will either complement what schools are already providing, or work as a standalone resource.

A total of 14 weeks of educational programmes and lessons will be produced for children of all ages.

“In these uncertain times parents look to the BBC to support them and offer education while children can’t be in school. This is the biggest education effort the BBC has ever undertaken. This comprehensive package is something only the BBC would be able to provide,” said Tony Hall, Director General of the BBC.

“We are proud to be there when the nation needs us, working with teachers, schools and parents to ensure children have access and support to keep their learning going - come what may.

“We have been overwhelmed by the offers of help and support in putting this provision together and are looking forward to ensuring every child can continue to learn, and have fun, through our high-quality teaching and accessible education offer.”

Much of the programming will be filmed at MediaCityUK’s dock10 and its virtual studio, usually used by Match of the Day. This has the advantage that the set can be built remotely, without staff needing to be on site.

Presenters will include teachers, as well as famous faces like Karim Zeroual, Oti Mabuse and Katie Thistleton, and organisations including Royal Shakespeare Company, Premier League and Puffin Books.

BBC Bitesize Daily will start on 20th April, which would ordinarily be the beginning of summer term.

“Millions of parents are supporting their children to continue learning at home while schools are closed, to help slow the spread of coronavirus,” added Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson.

“As a parent, I know encouraging children to learn at home is no easy task and I am delighted that the BBC has worked with experts and exceptional teachers to create this educational package to support schools and parents by bringing learning to life on TVs, computers and tablets across the country.”

UK Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said:

"This is public service broadcasting at its best and will make a big difference to millions of children across the UK while schools are closed. I'm delighted the BBC is working closely with the government to help make sure our children are educated, informed and entertained during these challenging times,”

It comes as the BBC still faces an uncertain future, with the Government’s inquiry into whether to decriminalise non-payment of the TV licence.

Yesterday, the NUJ said that it was time for the Government to set aside the consultation after the “Covid-19 emergency had shown just how important it is to have trusted news sources.”

“Only ever an ill-motivated act of political sabotage, such an exercise is now completely out of keeping with the times we are in,” stated Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary.

“Whatever its detractors may feel in their hearts, no one can deny that the BBC has risen to the challenge posed by this pandemic and demonstrated its worth, day in day out, as a vital and valued British institution. Journalists and programme-makers are working around the clock to ensure the public is kept fully informed, engaged and entertained during the most uncertain and challenging of times. We should all be proud, but more importantly there needs to be meaningful action and support if the BBC is to sustain itself.”