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Skip to 0 minutes and 3 secondsI think using film as a text is a really powerful thing. Some people think that if you're using film, it's at the expense of written text, from books, but it just couldn't be further from the case. It's a really symbiotic relationship. There are many different ways of improving children's literacy, of engaging them with stories. And particularly of building on the skills that they've already developed, long before they arrive at school. So children, from the age of one and a half or two years old, have collections of DVDs. They can operate remote controls. They're watching films and TV programmes over and over and over again.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 seconds And what they're learning about are things like genre, narrative, how characters work, how stories use settings. So bringing that expertise, and those skills and knowledge into the classroom, I think should be really fundamental, as a way of teaching literacy. It's had an incredibly positive impact. I've taught it now within three different ages. The main part, first, was the engagement of the boys, who were very switched off to literacy. They actually said they didn't see it as an English lesson. Within the Bradford Media Literacy Study, over the three years of the project, the children have demonstrated above average progress in writing, which was the original aim of the project.

Skip to 1 minute and 21 seconds But as a spin-off, there's also been an improvement in their reading results, particularly because we can use film to develop children's reading comprehension. Our standardised assessment tests, we saw that this year, there was a dramatic increase in the percentage of children that achieved a level four in reading. So this year, the results were 93 per cent, and the previous year had only been 77 per cent. We feel that the percentage increase this year was a result of using the film project. Makes people want to work more, and they'll make people have more fun, and want to come to school.

Skip to 2 minutes and 1 second For the vast, vast majority of teachers that we've worked with, they say that film has changed the way that they teach. It's changed the way that children engage with them. And it's really switched them on to writing and reading in the classroom. If we accept that film is-- if it's fundamental to children's lives, their cultural lives, their personal and their social lives, I think there isn't a part of the curriculum that wouldn't be served well by incorporating film, incorporating the moving image.

Why use film to improve literacy?

Film and the visual image play a central role in children’s lives and cultural understanding. Using film as a text provides us with opportunities to support communication, comprehension and written expression. Film is an extremely effective tool for education and improving literacy skills.

In the video above, Tim and Philip discuss their work using film as text, with over 1000 children in 37 schools over a three-year period. The Media Literacy Project, was managed by Bradford Metropolitan District Council’s curriculum innovation service in partnership with Bradford UNESCO City of Film (CoF), the BFI and Cape UK. The final results published this year recorded its highest pupil scores in reading and writing. Pupils averaged 4.28 points progress in writing and 4.15 for reading. Expected progress over a school year was an average points score of 3.

How do you think the use of film as text can be a powerful tool for learning?

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching Literacy Through Film

The British Film Institute (BFI)

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join:

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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.
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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.