Watching films raises school grades, research finds

Tes Reporter

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It sounds like a particularly poor excuse for failing to do homework: “Watching Hunger Games is good for my literacy skills, honest.”

But, in fact, spending the evening at the cinema can boost school grades, research has suggested.

Franzi Florack of Bradford University introduced regular film-literacy classes to 19 primary schools in Bradford. These were supplemented with visits by professional film makers to the classroom.

She found that following the classes, 38.8 per cent of pupils performed higher than expected in literacy tests.

The evidence was supported by interviews with the pupils, many of whom said that they felt more confident about expressing themselves following the film-viewing classes.

In fact, 53.7 per cent of students said that their writing was better in film classes than in other lessons. Meanwhile, 48.4 per cent said that they achieved better grades in film lessons than in other lessons.

The majority of teachers also believed that the scheme was having a positive impact on their pupils’ writing.

The effect of spending school time watching Jennifer Lawrence save the world in a black leather jumpsuit, or Robert Downey Jr doing the same in an iron onesie, was particularly felt in schools that had been judged by inspectors to require improvement.

“These students were more likely to begin the year with below-expectation grades, but then caught up and sometimes exceeded expectations,” Ms Florack said, presenting her findings at the annual British Educational Research Association conference this month.

Pupils who were working below the level expected for their age group were the most likely to make progress as a result of the new lessons: 62 per cent saw an increase in their literacy grades, compared with 52.5 per cent of children already at the expected level.

Teachers reported a particularly noticeable effect among underachieving and hard-to-engage boys, as well as with older children, leading Ms Florack to conclude: “Films might be a good tool to raise the attainment of underachieving students.”

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