Since Rediffusion Television started the weekday independent television service for London it was always the intention to provide a programme service which should contain not only entertainment but also information and education.

Less and less is it remembered that the early days of this operation were full of difficulties. The conversion of the television reception facilities of millions of households from a single programme to multi-programme, with the attendant economic and technical problems was not exactly easy. In addition the general public, used to television programmes studded with long gaps of potters’ wheels and watermills, had to learn to accept television programmes with advertisements in natural breaks. Finally it was difficult to convince some people that television advertising was really worthwhile.

These were some of the initial difficulties which caused heavy financial losses and, indeed, some of the pioneers did not have the faith or patience to keep with it. It was under such difficult conditions that in 1956 Rediffusion Television (then Associated-Rediffusion) decided to introduce school television programmes so as to complete its range of entertainment, information and education.

Naturally such a step was received by many with some scepticism. It took a lot to convince people that Rediffusion did not intend to use the schoolroom as a place for subliminal or even direct advertising. The fact that the school television service was proposed right from the beginning without advertising and in close collaboration with the educational authorities was referred to by at least one educationalist as “too good to be true”. There were also others with a direct interest in teaching who were worried that school television might result in a form of direct teaching, replacing school teachers and also reducing the standard of teaching. There was correspondence about this in newspapers by well-meaning people with either too little or too much imagination but, as mostly happens in the educational world, commonsense eventually prevailed. Now more and more educationalists see the value of television as a great audiovisual aid to teaching if properly co-ordinated with the thinking of those primarily responsible for teaching.

As far as it is possible to express in financial terms the value of teaching services, there is little doubt that the sum of £5,000,000 or so that has been spent over the last 10 years by the BBC (out of licence revenue) and independent companies (out of their advertising revenue) has given greater educational value than the same money could have produced if it had been spent on any other form of educational service.

After a disappointing start, we have now reached the stage where over half the schools in the country use school television services. This means that some millions of children now benefit from up-to-date audiovisual aids. It is believed that it will not be many years now before educational television enters nearly every school in Britain.

Those of us who have been connected with the school television service since the planning days over 10 years ago think we are extremely fortunate to have this great experience. We intend to continue our efforts in the school television field in future and to continue to seek advice and guidance from teachers. Our aim is to raise the standard and acceptability of the programmes to an even higher point than they attain to-day.

On behalf of Rediffusion Television Limited I wish to thank everybody who has given us so much help in the planning and application of school television programmes, and in particular, the members of our Educational Advisory Council. I wish to thank, too, all those working in the Independent Television Authority and in the other independent television companies for their collaboration. My appreciation also goes to the BBC for what they are doing in school television and especially for help in co-ordination so that the schools can get the best results out of both school television services. In addition special thanks are due to the thousands of teachers in schools throughout the country who are the final and most important link between the school television service and the pupils. Many of them are of great help to us with their constructive criticism. Last and mostly I wish to thank all those in Rediffusion Television who have first as pioneers, and now as veterans of school television, done so very much to make it a success.

Looking around with John Gough

From the TVTimes Midlands edition for 13-19 January 1957 

When Boris Ford was appointed Head of School Broadcasting for Associated-Rediffusion, he said he hoped people wouldn’t call him “Headmaster.” He hoped in vain. Already he’s known throughout the country, months before the programmes start, as “The ITV Head.”

But for these school broadcasts, which ITV is pioneering in Britain, Mr. Ford intends to stay pretty much in the background — as far as the viewer is concerned. He may introduce the first scries at the end of April, but probably won’t be seen often during the lessons.

He will have a staff of ten to prepare the programmes, and the benefit of an advisory council comprised of educationalists. The actual TV production will be handled by TV experts: Rosemary Horstmann, former Manager of Women’s Programmes, has been appointed Manager of School Broadcasting.

The programmes will be mainly directed at the 14 to 15-year-olds, 75 per cent of whom are at secondary modern schools. Transmission times are not yet fixed definitely, but may be 1.45 to 2.15 — every day from Monday to Friday in term time.


Mr. Ford, 39-years-old, married, and with four children, says: “Education need not be solemn to succeed. I hope our programmes will be extremely lively and invigorating.”

In that case, I imagine he will find himself entertaining not only schoolchildren — but housewives. He agrees that the programmes may well have quite a large “eavesdropping” audience.

TV lessons, says Mr. Ford, will not attempt to oust the teacher or the printed word, but to supplement them. Programmes may deal with civic affairs, historical geography, and even the launching of the earth’s man-made satellites.


Mr. Ford is a Cambridge M.A., and during the war served with army education – finishing as Chief Editor at GHQ in Cairo. In post-war years he held important posts with the Bureau of Current Affairs and was Information Officer and Editor to the Technical Assistance Board of the United Nations Organisation.

In 1953 and 1954 he was Secretary to the committee for inquiry into vocational and non-vocational further education, and in 1955 was appointed Editor of The Journal of Education and Universities Quarterly. Last year he became organising secretary of a trust body named Children’s Play Activities Ltd.

£2,000 a week

Captain T. M. Brownrigg, general manager of Associated-Rediffusion, says the programmes will cost the ITV companies, together, about £1,500 to £2,000 a week. That’s not a lot as TV costs go: but Capt. Brownrigg reminded me — “A lot of the cost of TV programmes goes in salaries to the stars, and teachers don’t cost as much as Arthur Askeys.”

Rosemary Horstmann, who is manager of Associated-Rediffusion’s education programmes, was connected with the BBC’s experimental schools telecasts five years, ago and has clear ideas on what TV should give young viewers. “It should be something they can’t get from teachers,” Miss Horstmann said, “Television is not an easy way out for a teacher. You must have imagination to take from the screen what you want and bend it to the needs of the class.

“TV can provide a strong stimulus. If, for example, children are studying Macbeth for GCE we might get a famous Shakespearian actor to talk about his interpretation of the part.

“And TV is a good medium for relating what is learned in the classroom to what is learned outside. If a boy goes to work in a factory he would know only his own job and the boss would be a shadowy figure. We can bring the boss on TV, and show how the whole factory operates.”