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ITV Schools programmes launched on 13th May 1957. The service began as an experiment by London based broadcaster, Associated Rediffusion. They installed 200 free television sets to schools throughout London and an educational advisors board was setup and chaired by Sir John Wolfenden (see Programmes > 60s).

The idea that television along with chalk, paper and pens could be useful as a teaching aid was the principle aim of the experiment. By convincing teachers that television could serve as a medium other than the blackboard was a bold idea. The philosophy of teachers in those days was that there was very little teaching time as it stood. Giving up an hour to watch schools programmes was not desirable. What could children possibly gain by this? "No one can say for sure," said Sir John.

It was hard to judge if children benefited from a lesson that stemmed from a television programme. The success of Independent Television for Schools proved that indeed, it did work. And children were presented with first class, teacher endorsed material. Nothing easier on the eyes (and brain) than sitting in front of a TV set instead of writing - now that's got to be good!

Back in 1983, Central Television were responsible, on behalf of ITV, for the schools intervals, with clocks, visuals, animations and music being produced by Jim Stokoe as Controller of Presentation and Promotion at Central Television. Jim Stokoe took over the responsibility for the ITV Schools service from James Berrow, who then went onto producing arts programmes for Central Television.

Prior to Central, it had been the responsibility of ATV for the ITV Network. Each term, the visuals and music were themed, with an educational thought behind them. "I remember a series of paintings by Burne Jones, beautiful series of botanical plants and flowers, famous architecture, Stamps, wild animal paintings and a series of steam engines among the many," said Jim Stokoe - former Head of Programmes and Presentation at Central Television and Childrens ITV (CITV).

The presentation format to begin ITV Schools in the 60s was the Rediffusion 'Lightspots' era. The first image below is from around 1974 and was indicative of post 1960s black and white to colour. The 'Lightspots' were ditched a year before the ITV Strike of 1979 to be replaced with the well-known pictorial interval slides of the 1980s. The second image is a countdown clock from 1976. With only minor changes to the presentation format and after the aforementioned ITV strike of 1979, a new clock was introduced, shown in the third picture and is the more infamous of the countdown clocks seen on ITV. That clock tick-tocked all the way to 1987 when ITV Schools went to Channel Four and a stunning new image and presentation format was unveiled.


Independent Television For Schools and Colleges was transmitted for two and a half hours every weekday morning at 9:30am for 30 weeks. After the demise of the 'Lightspots' the pictorial interval slides were introduced. These slides filled in time before the standard 60 second countdown commenced. The slides changed through the terms and years with National Portrait Gallery works and Botanics featured. In transmission, the following order was witnessed... Interval Slide > Countdown > (teacher notice sometimes) > Company Ident > Programme.

The almost complete collection of all the slides ever used on ITV For Schools and Colleges is available for viewing under Interval Slide Gallery in the menu.