English - Switch on to film

2nd March 2012 at 00:00
Get your whole school watching and discussing movies

It is great that the recently announced Film Policy Review is recommending further investment to produce a comprehensive film education for children. Let's hope that it is truly tailored to their needs.

Our school is one of 7,000 across the UK that belongs to the Filmclub programme. Every week we get together to watch a film selected from a vast array of titles, including foreign language films, documentaries, independent British movies and classics stretching back nearly a century.

We have seen films as diverse as The General (a silent movie), The Secret of Kells (an Irish animation) and Bridge to Terabithia (a fantasyadventure film). Screenings are regularly followed by discussions. As part of Parliament Week, for example, we watched City of Ember and The Secret of NIMH, which led to a discussion about the rights of the individual and the challenges of democracy. More recently we enjoyed A Town Called Panic, a subtitled French film, which led to a discussion about how pupils could use toys and the family camcorder to make their own films.

Pupils are learning about history, science, politics, the wider world - and more about themselves.

We also arrange interactions with film professionals, which open up entirely new worlds for pupils. Many of our Filmclub members are not in any other club and the way they have grown in confidence in discussions is wonderful.

We watch U and PG films and have discussed censorship and what things are appropriate and when. To share a film that engages a whole school from the ages of 4 to 11 is wonderful.

Rosie, 11, told me: "Films surprise me - they aren't often what we expect." Molly, also 11, added: "Seeing different types of film every week is interesting, sometimes not what we would watch at home, and we find we enjoy them."

I have seen so many schemes come and go with varying degrees of success, but in school life consistency and maintaining momentum are key. Filmclub is funded so there is no cost to the school. On the contrary, its rewards are immense in terms of knowledge and experience of the wider world, speaking, listening, development of writing, confidence and enjoyment. The Film Policy Review is absolutely correct: fostering a love of film has wide educational benefits and the opportunity should be available to every child.

Janice Laycock is headteacher of St Mary's Catholic Primary in Maidenhead, Berkshire. For more information on Filmclub and how to join visit www.filmclub.org. For resources to support your club, see Filmclub's TES profile


Introduce film language techniques with mcmrbt's step-by-step guide to the Wallace and Gromit film The Wrong Trousers.

Explore how movies came into being with rshades' timeline, tracing cinema from the phenakistoscope to the nickelodeon.

gabbysundquist has shared a presentation that introduces the complexity of film, focusing on emotional responses.


Are there any hidden costs associated with running a film club? Teachers discuss this on the TES primary forum.

For all links and resources visit www.tes.co.ukresources024.

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