The go-ahead has been given for Teachers’ TV, a new interactive television channel due to launch in early 2005. The service is intended to be available on digital satellite, terrestrial and cable television in the UK. The channel, the first of its type in Europe, will carry programmes on training and development, resources for the classroom and education news.

Teachers’ TV will be available on Sky and Freeview and discussions are currently underway regarding distribution on NTL and Telewest digital cable.

The service is being funded by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) with an annual budget of £20m but will be editorially independent.

“Teachers’ TV is a first – a government-funded channel to serve a professional group,” said Brian Lapping, the chairman of Educational Digital.

The channel will include interactive services, enabling viewers to access further information about programmes, personalise their viewing and highlight what’s relevant to them on the schedule. Some programmes will be made available on demand on the website where there will also be links to online resources directly related to programmes, lesson plans and Teachers’ TV community services such as forums.

“The channel is the first of its kind and is part of our overall commitment to improve standards in schools, and raise the quality of a key public service,” commented School Standards Minister David Miliband.

The channel will be run by Education Digital, an independent consortium made up of Brook Lapping Productions, ITV and the University of London Institute of Education. The web site will be produced by Victoria Real.

“Teachers’ TV is not just another digital channel,” said Nigel Dacre, Chief Executive of Educational Digital and former editor of ITV News. “It’s something completely new: a well-funded, interactive television service which will make a real difference to the working lives of people in one of the key industries in the country. After 20 years in the television news business, it’s exciting to be back in the field of television production, and involved in the launch of a challenging new project.”

The decision to launch Teachers’ TV follows a long tender process and a pilot study involving a thousand teachers, teaching assistants, head teachers and governors watching 45 programmes over a period of six weeks.

  • 90% said they would watch the channel when it launched
  • 76% thought that the launch of Teachers’ TV would boost morale among the teaching profession
  • 88% said the programmes were effective as a means of delivering training and development materials
  • 84% said the channel would save teachers time by delivering practical ideas, suggestions, tips and resource reviews
  • 88% said that the pilot programmes had delivered against the channel’s objective to share good or innovative practice.

Teachers’ TV is one of a number of public sector interactive services launched by the government. Approval has also been granted for an NHS Direct interactive television service to be provided by a consortium headed by MMTV.