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Skip to 0 minutes and 1 secondWe've always struggled with raising attainment in literacy, as have many schools in that situation. And we were looking at an alternative, and an innovative way, to encourage boys, in particular, to raise attainment, and to take more interest in their writing and their literacy. I was keen for the children to use film as a way of learning about narrative genre. I liked the fact that they can work practically, writing their own films and stories, to show their understanding of that genre and structure. What set this project apart for me was the opportunity to co-create a scheme of work, and plan a project from the outset, with the senior staff in year five and six.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 secondsPlanning together allows us to combine film literacy and the requirements of the national curriculum. We can ensure that the children are meeting specific targets, by organising certain activities and tasks. Initially, we'll start with an introduction to the film genre. So that means that we'll look at the generic conventions of that genre. The students will get an opportunity to look at classic film clips from the genre they are going to be studying, and to textually analyse those clips, as well, so we can start to immediately introduce media language. A big part of the process is the production workshops, and we will tailor those workshops to suit the genre that the students are studying.

Skip to 1 minute and 25 secondsFor instance, with sci-fi, that's involved green screen workshops. With silent movie, we've looked at fixed camera techniques. And we'll also give the opportunity for year six students to peer mentor the year five students, training them on the camera. The pupils use this understanding of the genre to inform and base their ideas for their scripts. As a teacher who is new to the profession, I have to admit, at first, I did have some concerns about the filming project, and how it went into the curriculum, and how much work it would involve for me, as a teacher.

Skip to 1 minute and 59 secondsOnce you started to get involved with it, with Mrs Griggs, and we started to work with Millstream Productions, you could then see how it built in with the writing. And the way the children engaged, and the children enjoyed the learning, then really made a massive impact on their writing. When we first discussed it, one of the issues was, we felt it might eat into the curriculum. But we decided that, let's go ahead and see what happens. And of course, rather than eating into the curriculum, it has actually added to the curriculum, and in particular, to the children's literacy skills. The quality is exceptional.

Skip to 2 minutes and 36 secondsThe children are given such wonderful opportunities and to build their confidence, obviously, in writing scripts, to improve their literacy. And they are so confident now, of course, with the filming process. The school was recently inspected by Ofsted. Within their report, they mentioned the film project seven times. There's a quote in the Ofsted report, which said 'outstanding enrichment activities, such as the silent movie project, support pupils' personal and academic development extremely well'. So it's really wonderful to see, because on all fronts, it has been a great success.

Modern literacy

At Into Film, we work with a wide number of filmmakers to deliver filmmaking projects in schools. The many schools with whom we’ve worked tell us that filmmaking actively engages students and helps them to retain knowledge. It also encourages critical and creative thinking, as well as developing a wide range of skills such as team working, problem solving, enterprise, and time and project management.

In this video, we look at how St. George’s Beneficial Church of England Primary School in Portsmouth found participating in a filmmaking project with Millstream Productions hugely beneficial to the whole school community.

Would you consider inviting filmmakers to come and work with young people in your school?

Are there any barriers to using this approach in your context?

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching Literacy Through Film

The British Film Institute (BFI)

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join:

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    Watch this short video to discover how and why learning through film improves literacy.

  • Foley sound
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    This step is an introduction to Foley art, and has a video clip with Foley artist, John Fewell.

  • Stills from The Girl and the Fox that show different shot sizes.
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    Linking camera shots and positions to still images in this activity, can provide a great writing stimulus in creating narrative.

  • Record and Playback
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    An introduction to the technique of Record and Playback, a simple but very effective tool for curricular learning.

  • Two images each showing samples of a shoe box set design.
    Shoebox set design
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    Making a shoe box set takes your pupils on a filmmaking journey that produces literacy outcomes, and is a great tool for assessment. PDF provided.

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