Spielberg it's not, but a DVD made by pupils shows what school life is really about, says Colin Doctor.
The school prospectus remains a valuable source of information for parents and the school community but it is usually out-of-date as soon as it is produced. Online information via a good school website can overcome many of these problems but why not take it a step further? A DVD is easy to produce and allows parents to see for themselves how school runs. It can be used to answer all the usual questions about uniform and general routines, too.
At Newnham St Peter's Church of England Primary School we have also used it as part of our "buddies" mentoring system. Year 5 pupils design, film and edit the DVD as a technology project in the summer term and the DVD is sent to the parents of our new reception children. They can watch it together over the summer and become familiar with the school day, the teachers and class layout.
The project restarts with Year 5 as they begin to assess the last DVD. They have to critically reflect the work of others and discuss and agree how it can be updated, improved and developed. Then they have to select the appropriate information to be included in the DVD, checking its accuracy and structuring, refining and presenting the information for this specific purpose and audience.
Last year the children decided to organise themselves into production teams visual, audio, content and presentation. Team visual interviewed the pupils and teachers, photographed the necessary school shots and produced all the film schedules. Audio managed the voice-overs, scripting and sound-recording and provided any music required. Content dealt with the running order and all the editing. Team presentation saw to all the packaging, design and printing, DVD reproduction, distribution and wrote all of the accompanying letters to parents.
The project has been funded by Creative Partnerships, the Government's flagship creativity programme for schools and young people managed by the Arts Council. We shall continue to provide the DVDs, as nothing can replace the sheer excitement of sitting in front of your own telly and watching it together. It is also something that can always be kept and treasured as a memory of starting school.
Colin Doctor is headteacher at Newnham St Peter's CofE Primary in Gloucestershire