Lights down, attainment up?

27th May 2011 at 01:00
Filmclub could be monster hit

From grand historical epics to slapstick comedies, pupils will be swapping the classroom for the cinema with the launch of nationwide film clubs.

Billed as an ideal way to broaden cultural understanding and improve literacy skills, the Filmclub initiative was rolled out to Wales this week, with plans for it to be available in 800 schools over the next four years.

The charity behind the free scheme helps schools establish and run the extra-curricular clubs that give pupils the chance to watch, discuss and review a diverse range of films from around the world.

Research shows that these clubs, which already run in more than 7,000 schools in England, can have substantial educational and social benefits, with teachers noting improvements in reading, writing and communication skills.

Speaking at yesterday's launch at Cantonian high school in Cardiff, education minister Leighton Andrews said the project would fulfil a key Government commitment to expand the literacy skills and personal development of young people.

Hollywood actor Michael Sheen, who was born in Port Talbot, is Filmclub's Welsh ambassador. He said: "It's brilliant that now, not only will young people have access to a broad and inspiring range of films, they will also be able to understand Welsh culture in the context of the wider world."

Several schools across Wales have been piloting the scheme and are already reporting positive results.

At Blenheim Road primary in Cwmbran, Torfaen, Filmclub is a popular option on the "enriched curriculum" on offer for Year 5 and 6 pupils.

In recent weeks, pupils have watched films as diverse as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Bugsy Malone and Ice Age.

Co-ordinator Karen Crooks said: "The scheme has definitely had a positive impact.

"The class discussions have helped improve their speaking and listening skills, as well as build their confidence."

Hannah Davies, extended schools co-ordinator at Treorchy comprehensive school in Rhondda Cynon Taf, said Filmclub had improved pupils' academic and social skills.

At Treorchy the scheme has had spin-off benefits for some pupils, with one attending the Bafta Cymru awards to interview stars on the red carpet, and another meeting the cast and director of the film Submarine, which was set in Wales.

Pauline Burt, chief executive of the Film Agency for Wales, added: "Children today learn through pictures as well as words. Here is an opportunity for everybody, not just the stars, to learn and have fun."

For its Welsh debut, Filmclub is introducing Welsh film seasons to showcase the country's contribution to cinema.

It features the work of Welsh filmmakers, including actors, directors and producers, highlighting their importance to the successful movie history of the UK and allowing pupils to see Wales on the big screen.

A special Welsh blog with bilingual news is also being introduced to the website.

- Filmclub is holding a series of free start-up sessions for teachers across Wales. Sign up at www.filmclub.orgblogcymru or call 020 7288 4520.

Original headline: Lights down, attainment up? Filmclub could be monster hit


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