Teachers TV provides round the clock help for staff in how to take lessons. The programmes that track beginners through their first term are proving the biggest hits, says Sara Bubb

Launched just a few weeks ago, Teachers' TV seems to be going down well, especially with new teachers. It's on 24 hours a day on digital and satellite platforms, and you can watch programmes online at www.teacherstv.org.uk. But watch out - viewers have said it's motivating, but quietly addictive.

Launched just a few weeks ago, Teachers' TV seems to be going down well, especially with new teachers. It's on 24 hours a day on digital and satellite platforms, and you can watch programmes online at www.teacherstv.org.uk. But watch out - viewers have said it's motivating, but quietly addictive.

Programmes are in chunks of 15 or 30 minutes and are divided into three "zones" - primary, secondary and general. They cover an array of topics. The primary zone covers subjects such as behaviour, boys' writing, circuits in science, drawing and painting portraits, special needs and NQTs. One programme looks at styles of behaviour management, with two headteachers discussing the pros and cons of their different approaches. All great stuff for people who haven't decided what sort of school they'd like to work in.

Drama across the curriculum, school safety, science experiments, poetry from many cultures and NQTs feature in the secondary zone. A secondary ICT specialist enjoyed the KS3/4 creative lessons programme about using Photoshop and movie-making: "It's nice to see what others are doing, how they do it and how kids respond." You can even see a KS4 chemistry experiment going wrong!

Cathy Goodey, a Year 5 teacher at Princes Plain Primary in Bromley, was inspired by a primary science programme: "I've taught electricity a couple of times with children running round a 'circuit' of other children, mimicking the particle flow," she says. "The one on TTV did it similarly but with balls being passed round. If my class could cope with the physical process of continuous passing, each child having one ball at any one time, it'd help their understanding. I'm going to try it out - but now I think about it, with an improved model for the switch!"

See how the programmes reassure but spark new ideas? It's a great source of professional development for students, newly qualified teachers and established teachers. Mrs Goodey says, "It's reassuring to see methods I've used in the classroom applauded and seeing strategies that are new to me - or ones that I'd simply forgotten."

The trouble is that some people see Teachers' TV as "inset training being done on the cheap and in our own time". This is a good point. Schools need to recognise the time that people spend watching - and notice the benefits of this way of learning by incorporating Teachers' TV into its menu of professional development activities.

The programmes that track NQTs in their first term seem most popular with new teachers. Sue Green, the producer at Flashback TV, is delighted: "We wanted to give as real and as personal an account of the NQT experience as possible. To their credit, Rosie and Tara, our two primary NQTs, let our cameras in on both good and bad days and were fantastically candid throughout the filming, giving the programmes a real chalkface feel."

You watch Tara and Rosie in two tough Brixton schools struggling with setting up a classroom, the hours spent planning, the frustrations of having to stop teaching to sort out behaviour, the exhaustion - and Tara getting nits in the first week!

In the secondary zone you see Stuart drowning under his marking and Clare teaching a Year 10 French lesson. As a secondary NQT says, "Seeing what others are doing makes you feel as though you're working along the right lines. It's reassuring to see that others find it tough too."

For people entering the profession, it's a window on the world of teaching and learning. One trainee says, "It's valuable to have the time to watch and reflect on other teachers' practice and consider improvements - something that I don't get the opportunity to do on Graduate Teacher Programme."

Teaching is a solitary business. Watching colleagues teach is growing in popularity and highly valued as a way to get new ideas and discuss teaching and learning. However, it can be a hassle to organise and may feel like an imposition. The discussion afterwards is fraught with the potential for offence. This is the real advantage of Teachers' TV: it gives people the opportunity to spy on lessons without having to intrude or disrupt. They can dismiss, damn, discuss or copy the ideas - and it's all safe.

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