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Literacy - Discover the reel world

What it's all about

With International Literacy Day tomorrow (8 September), there is no better time to reflect on one of the main building blocks of any education system. But literacy is often defined in terms that are too narrow to offer the maximum possible benefit to young people, writes Michael Bichard.

Literacy should not be restricted to the classroom. Rather, it must be supported by a framework of other activities that allow those hours in class to make sense.

I am the chair of the charity Filmclub, and with our partner organisations Film Education and First Light we challenge pupils to experience diverse worlds. Equally, they learn about the arc of a storyline, the interaction between characters and different styles of vocabulary. There's the opportunity to discuss and review films - more than 6,000 reviews by schoolchildren are sent in to Filmclub's website each week - and this gives young people a palpable sense of why literacy and the capacity to express oneself are important.

About 76 per cent of Filmclub's members say it has helped them with their English. Then there is anecdotal evidence: tales of pupils who were once uninterested in literature finding their confidence and with it their critical voice. Teachers, too, are seeing the value of offering a different angle on learning.

A carefully curated catalogue of films enables teachers to tailor what they show to their classes. It is vital that we do not view programmes that expand pupils' horizons as optional extras. The scaffolding these extracurricular activities provide is vital to curricular success.

What else?

Visit Filmclub's profile on the TES Resources website. Guide pupils' viewing of Juno (pictured) with stevencallow `s worksheet.

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