Sarah Joyce reflects on 2019 as Head of Children’s TV

2019 was another fantastic year for children’s television production in the UK.  The Children’s Television Council and ScreenSkills would like to say a huge “thank you” to all the productions that contributed to the live-action Children’s TV Skills Fund.  Last year (fiscal year 2018/2019) contributions reached £252,000 and we are on track to exceed that amount this year; it will be the third year of growth for the Skills Fund, which really is fantastic.

Every single contributing production company has played a part in supporting investment in skills across the UK, helping to ensure the industry remains vibrant and forward-thinking. Quite simply we couldn’t do our work without your support.  Nor for that matter could I do my job without the unwavering commitment from the Children’s TV Skills Council, all of whom give up their valuable time to provide expertise, direction and industry knowledge to me to ensure the Skills Fund is being utilised to support skills programmes most needed by the industry.  My thanks to them too.   

In 2019 there has been an uptake in productions taking trainees through the ScreenSkills Trainee Finder programme. We have supported 23 individuals with placements on productions across the UK including Molly and Mack, Andy and the Band, The Demon Headmaster, So Awkward, Mimi on a Mission, Secret Life of Boys and Get Even. Interviews for the 2020/21 trainee cohort are underway, with the successful candidates starting placements in April 2020.  We continue to encourage productions to consider offering these opportunities - it is such a positive experience for both trainee and production.

Make a Move - the scheme which allows individuals to gain the skills needed to move into more senior grades through on-the-job training - has this year supported individuals to step up into roles as varied as production coordinator and series director.  This is a truly flexible fund that allows the industry to take ownership of the development of its talent. If you know someone ready to make a move, this is the scheme for you.

We also launched Children’s TV Skills Fund bursaries in 2019, aimed at individuals looking to develop their skills by attending training. The support can be used to cover training fees as well as associated expenses such as travel or carer costs. Bursaries are available irrespective of your career stage and may be just what is needed after a career break to refresh your knowledge. 

Alongside this we continued to support Grand Scheme Media in the delivery of a bespoke two-day course Get The Knowledge. The course was developed in partnership with the industry-led Children’s TV Council and is designed to help you understand the essentials of working with children making it ideal for those considering working in children’s TV, or those looking for a refresher. Day one focuses on legislation, licensing and best practice. Day two focuses on creating great content for children. We run training across the UK and dates can be found on our website.

Away from ScreenSkills it was great to see that 15 productions which were nominated for a British Academy Children’s Awards in December 2019 had contributed to the Children’s TV Skills Fund.  One further production - Mary Poppins Returns - contributed to the Film Skills Fund.

Other good news came from the BFI’s Young Audience Content Fund (YACF) in November 2019 when they announced their first slate of production awards in support of nine series and specials across six broadcasters.  We continue to work in partnership with the BFI team to cross-promote the YACF and the Skills Fund.

Finally, please do check the website for more details on any of the schemes mentioned and sign up to the newsletter for forthcoming news as we head into 2020.  The Council and I look forward to working with you in the year ahead and here’s to an even more successful 2020!

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