ITV/Channel 4: Programmes for schools and colleges launched on ITV in 1957. Although I am not old enough to remember when schools programmes were on ITV, I have seen several clips online. Programmes were every weekday from 9:30 to midday. First of all a slide would appear and these would be changed every term, which would then go into a countdown clock when there was one minute before the start of the programme. This would be accompanied by various pieces of music. Usually just before every programme started the continuity announcer would provide information for teachers such as how to receive factsheets and books with information on the programmes.
In September 1987 after 30 years on ITV, schools programmes moved to Channel 4. This is the first era that I remember. Before every programme started, The ITV Schools symbol would rotate on the screen. This was based on the ITV symbol that was used occasionally on screen at the time, but even though an official ITV symbol wasn’t introduced until 1989, the sequence was never amended. This would accompanied by a great and memorable piece of the music called “The Journey” which was six minutes long, meaning that it could be joined at various times depending on how long the junction was. When there was a minute to go to the next programme, a countdown clock would appear accompanied by a piece of music called “Just A Minute”.
Even though it was now on Channel 4, the strand remained named as ITV Schools because they still produced the majority of the programmes. I don’t remember watching any programmes specifically live when I was at school, but I definitely watched some pre-recorded ones. Some of the most famous of the ITV Schools programmes include How We Used To Live, Stop Look Listen and Picture Box which are still remembered fondly by many viewers to this day. Most of the programming from the late-70s and early-80s would go on to inspire the first series of the terrific BBC2 comedy Look Around You.
In 1993 the ITV name was dropped and the strand finally became Channel 4 Schools, which meant that it was time for some new presentation. The main ident featured various historical figures over some rather creepy music. The countdown before every programme was now only 30 seconds, with longer intervals being filled by some pictures of artwork.
When Channel 4 introduced their circles era of presentation in 1996, the schools presentation was changed again, this time continuing to feature a 30 second countdown before programmes, and the circles being used and featuring various subjects appearing in them over a new piece of background music.
The presentation was changed again when the squares era of Channel 4 presentation was introduced in 1999, and the strand was renamed “4Learning”. It was around this time that schools programmes began to be phased out on Channel 4, usually only being shown at around 4am, before in 2009 they were dropped altogether, finally bringing that era to an end.