The streets where we live

25th January 2008 at 00:00
Filming your neighbourhood makes you see it with new eyes and, hopefully, may encourage you to treat it with respect, says Jonathan Kersey.

Getting children to make short films about their neighbourhood is a great way to promote citizenship. We call our project The Bad and the Beautiful - because each film focuses on things pupils like and don't like about their area.

Landmark buildings such as monuments and churches or open spaces, parks and fields usually get a positive response.

Pupils can think about what is special to them, or what landmarks they would want to show a visitor. Negatives tend to be things that spoil the environment, such as litter, graffiti and pollution.

We take classes out for a day's filming with digital video cameras. Pupils have to decide in advance what they want to film, so we spend a long time poring over local maps.

Back at school, children edit their footage. Everyone is comfortable using Moviemaker because we promote it across the curriculum. Music and voiceover are added. Some do their own narration.

Most decide to interview people whose lives are touched by the things in their film. So, a pupil who focuses on pollution speaks to a traffic warden about the impact of fumes and noise. We mix the sound separately, using a program called Audacity.

The films are the centrepiece of the project, but we get children to write poems, make paintings and take photos - all connected to the good and bad things in our community. The work is displayed on a website called InfoMapper, which gathers images of local communities. The project instils a sense of civic pride.

Hopefully, if any pupils find themselves tempted to drop litter or spray graffiti, they'll remember the films.

Jonathan Kersey is deputy head at Southborough Church of England Primary in Tunbridge Wells.

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