BBC School Broadcasting Council for Scotland

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History of the various schools councils

On 24 September 1928, the BBC's Scottish stations transmitted an all-Scottish schools programme for the first time. The first broadcast that afternoon was a talk by Professor J. Arthur Thomson on the "Showers of Gossamer", the first of a new series under the general title Natural History Round the Year.

Recognising the need to be guided by an outside body representative of the educational world, in 1929 the BBC set-up the Central Council for School Broadcasting and a Scottish Sub-Council.

Scottish Sub-Council for School Broadcasting, 1929–36

The responsibility for broadcasts to Scottish schools was devolved to the Scottish Sub-Council for School Broadcasting, which met for the first time on 4 December 1929. The Council was composed of members of the Scottish Education Department, the Education Authorities, the Association of Directors of Education, teachers of all grades, together with various representative Scotsmen, such as Professor J. Arthur Thomson, Sir Charles Cleland, and others.[1]

Scottish Council for School Broadcasting, 1936–47

In 1936, the Sub-Council enlarged its membership and altered its title to the Scottish Council for School Broadcasting.

School Broadcasting Council for Scotland, 1947–

The post-war situation suggested the need for reorganisation. To facilitate this the Central and Scottish Councils for School Broadcasting resigned in 1947 and in their place three councils were established, one for the United Kingdom, one for Scotland, and one for Wales.

The School Broadcasting Council for Scotland had two programme sub-committees, one for primary schools and the other for secondaries. Because some schools programmes were broadcast throughout the UK, the Council appointed six of its members to its UK counterpart. Three members also served on the executive committee of the UK body and on its five programme sub-committees.

There were changes in personnel. Mr A. D. Adam, Scottish Schools Broadcasting director, continued as secretary to the Council in addition to his other duties, and Mr James Crampsey, former assistant in the Schools Department in Scotland, took over as producer on the Glasgow programme staff of the BBC. Mr J. W. Leitch, who was the BBC education officer, left to become one of H.M. Inspectors of Schools.

Mr R. E. Rogerson, a graduate of Glasgow University, who taught at Keil School, Dumbartonshire, and Kilmarnock Academy, and Mr Ian Wishart, a former teacher in Darroch School and a member of Edinburgh Repertory Company, joined the Schools Broadcasting Department in Edinburgh as assistants.

The new education officers appointed by the BBC were seconded to the Schools Broadcasting Council for Scotland. Mr William T. Aird, an honours graduate of Glasgow University, who served for five years as adviser-instructor at the Army School of Education in India, worked from Aberdeen, and Mr Hugh Johnstone, also an honours graduate of Glasgow University and an artist and sculptor, worked in Glasgow. A third education officer was appointed, to work in Edinburgh.[2]

1952: New Scottish Schools Broadcasting director

In December 1952, Douglas R Allan was appointed secretary of the School Broadcasting Council for Scotland and head of Scottish school broadcasting in succession to Mr A. D. Adam.[3]

Role of the Council and its processes

The Council studied educational practice and trends in schools and considered how they could be aided by school broadcasts.

A concentrated review of the effectiveness of selected programmes was made each year, using information from questionnaires, conferences of specialists, and direct visits to schools by the Council's education officers who would discuss with teachers the suitability of programmes under review. Evidence was then submitted to the appropriate programme sub-committee.

When a UK series was being planned, account was taken of any differences in educational practice between England and Scotland. Where such differences did emerge, a compromise plan was sought, but if this proved impossible, the School Broadcasting Council for Scotland would decide whether to recommend some alternative provision.

Programme sub-committees generally met in late September or October, to recommend the broadcast series to be provided in the coming school year, and to define the aim and scope of the particular series proposed as a result of the latest review of a subject. The recommended policy was defined in a commission which normally held until the subject is next reviewed, a period of about four years.

The recommendations of the programme sub-committees passed to the Executive Committee of the School Broadcasting Council for Scotland, and then, with its recommendations, to the Executive Committee of the Council for the United Kingdom. In November, a request for the provision of broadcast series in the following session was submitted by the Council to the BBC.

When the broadcast provision had been agreed by the BBC, the School Broadcasting Department of the Corporation prepared plans which were submitted to further meetings of the programme sub-committees in February. The sub-committees were asked to say whether the plans conformed to the commissions and accordingly to recommend their adoption, amendment or rejection. After the broadcasting plans had thus been decided, the responsibility for editing scripts and producing the broadcasts rested solely with the BBC School Broadcasting Department.

Relationship with schools

The Scottish Education Department had always shown interest in the development of broadcasting as an educational aid. It had representatives on the School Broadcasting Council for Scotland, its executive committee and on all the programme sub-committees. From the 1930s(?), H. M. Inspectors in Scotland included information on the use of broadcasting in their triennial reports on schools.

Teacher training

There was also close contact between the Council and the National Committee for the Training of Teachers. Every year, Council officials and BBC producers held courses in each of the training colleges, although by the late 1940s much of the work had been taken over by college lecturers.[4]


  1. 'Schools Broadcasting: New Scottish Council, Scotsman, 5 December 1929, 13.
  2. 'Changes in School Broadcasting: New Advisory Council', Glasgow Herald, 22 October 1947, 4.
  3. 'BBC Appointment', Glasgow Herald, 3 December 1952, 3.
  4. 'Statement for the Beveridge Committee from the Scottish School Broadcasting Council', 1949, BBC WAC R6/188.