Written by Amelia Moseley for ABC Backstory.
After 55 years of informing primary school children, Behind The News launches BTN High for older students on ABC iview and on the BTN website.
What can secondary school students look forward to from BTN High?
BTN High will release weekly videos covering big topics in the news for students across different year levels and subject areas. We've created this especially for teachers to use in their classrooms as a trustworthy resource that's tailored to the Australian Curriculum. We hope students will also enjoy watching and take the initiative to check us out in their own time, but school is a great launching point, and it's always been where BTN has been best utilised. It's a chance to give high school students a voice in the news, enabling them to talk about topics they care about, share their experiences, and learn more about what's going on around them.
Our flagship show, BTN, and our daily show, BTN Newsbreak, will continue in the same way that so many kids, teachers and parents across the country have come to know and love, but we hope this exciting new content offering will mean that we can continue to educate, engage and inform millions of students every week as they continue their journey through high school.
How did BTN High come about?
As the third longest-running TV show in Australian history, we know we have a really dedicated following in schools and homes across the country, otherwise we wouldn't still be here! We always felt it didn't make sense to lose students as they moved into high school, when we have still have so much we can offer them and their teachers. I'm told so often now by high school students that they're a fan and they loved watching BTN, and we've seen a lot of interaction with BTN and nostalgia on social media platforms like Tik Tok. As a team, we also have that 55-year knowledge base behind us, that helps us explain difficult topics in the news in a way that doesn't patronise our audience and keeps them watching, even as they get older. So, when the opportunity finally came to take on BTN High, we definitely jumped at it!
(Recording an episode of BTN in the 1970s.)
Over the years, we've had to move with the times – students and teachers no longer watch our shows on big old TVs that get rolled into the classroom like they did just a couple of decades ago! We know a lot of the time they prefer on-demand content that they can pick and choose from, and watch collectively or individually on different devices, and that's what BTN High is all about.
What range of stories are you rolling out?
We're focusing on big news topics like natural disasters, politics, and social issues as they happen, but everything we cover also has an educational focus because it has to be relevant, appropriate and engaging for use in the classroom. So far, we've covered topics like the dark web, the science of vaping, the age of incarceration in Australia, art vandalism, school phone bans, and ChatGPT. We've interviewed a lot of interesting experts, and gone out to high schools to ask students what they think about some of those topics, how they're affected and what they'd like to see change. It's really important to us to give high school students a place to have their say, and encourage conversations and discussions; especially in a world that often tries to paint complicated topics as black and white.
How do you watch BTN High?
You can watch BTN High on ABC iview and on the BTN website. If you have any suggestions for BTN High, you can also send us an email.
The BTN High team