BBC opens up digital archive and launches schools storytelling project to mark centenary year

The BBC has made two significant education announcements as part of its centenary celebrations in 2022.

Next year, the entire digitised BBC broadcast archive is being made available to students in formal education in the UK. It includes millions of TV and radio programmes, including interviews and features with almost every major cultural, artistic, political and sporting figure of the last 100 years, as well as iconic dramas and landmark comedy programmes.

All students and educators will be able to access the rich digital archive including programmes from Planet Earth and Tomorrow’s World, to Radio Four’s The History of the World in 100 Objects and the latest dramas to aid their studies and fuel their passions – whether that’s natural history, history, the arts, or sciences.

In addition, BBC stars and staff are to visit 250,000 students in schools across the UK during 2022 to inspire the next generation of storytellers, in a project called Share Your Story. Both projects meet the second public purpose in the BBC’s Royal Charter, by supporting learning for children and teenagers across the United Kingdom.

BBC Director-General Tim Davie said: “The BBC has played a vital role in education throughout the last century – from Children’s Hour broadcasts in 1922, introducing the micro computer to schools in the eighties, to supporting an entire nation of home learners during the coronavirus pandemic.

“In 2022 – our centenary year – we will harness the unique power of the BBC to provide educational support to inspire millions of children and students across the UK.

“Hundreds of thousands of school children will be visited by BBC stars and staff, and all educators and students will gain access to cultural treasures in our digitised archive to aid their studies.”  

From January universities and schools across the UK will have access to millions of television and radio programmes under the ERA licensing scheme.

Just a small sample of what will be available includes: the entire Sir David Attenborough archive, including Life on Earth, Planet Earth and Blue Planet; hundreds of episodes of the landmark science series Horizon; dramas including the Play for Today collection from the 1970s and 80s, and the entire BBC Shakespeare collection which was opened up to students earlier this year.

Any institution with an ERA licence (the vast majority of schools and universities in the UK) will be able to request through their established education service providers any programme they want. The BBC will then make it available to the provider through a new archive search system.

This content can be used in many different ways, including multimedia essays, screenings, and for primary research and citation in universities. University students will also be able to access the content on personal devices, on and off campus in the UK.

The BBC will also launch Share Your Story with big names from TV, radio, sport and news and a range of BBC staff who will speak to secondary school pupils throughout next year as part of the initiative.

Some of the famous faces set to take part include: Ade Adepitan, Amar Latif, Alex Scott, Amol Rajan, Ashley John-Baptiste, Celeste, Danny Walters, Edith Bowman, Gareth Thomas, George The Poet, Graham Norton, Greg James, JJ Chalmers, Laura Kuenssberg, Nancy Kacungira, Nick Grimshaw, Patrick Kielty, Ruth Madeley, Scarlett Moffatt and Stacey Dooley.

They will host interactive storytelling sessions in school assemblies – sharing their life stories and experiences. The sessions will be designed to develop students’ storytelling, writing and presenting skills and boost confidence.

One teacher involved in a pilot at Sandymoor Ormiston Academy in Runcorn, Cheshire, Sarah Reardon, said: “It’s just been such a great way to build relationships between the students and the teachers.

“A student has shared their story with you, and you’ve built a completely different type of relationship with them, and suddenly they’re working very hard in their lessons.”

Children and young people will work with their teachers to create written, spoken or video content which tells their own story – something personal to them, from their own lives and communities.

Teachers will receive training to deliver these workshops from BBC partners the National Literacy Trust, Voice 21 and BFI Into Film. Students will share their stories during the visits, as well as hear inspirational stories from their guests and have the chance to ask questions.

The children will find out how to carry on their storytelling journey with the BBC via Bitesize and Young Reporter, and they will learn about BBC apprenticeships.

Jonathan Douglas CBE, Hon FRSL, chief executive of the National Literacy Trust, said: “Good storytelling skills can help people progress at every stage of their life –  at school, applying to further education, as young adults getting into the job market, and if they become a parent they can help support their own children’s learning. We are delighted to partner with the BBC on this initiative to help build a nation of storytellers.”

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