The wide-reaching impact of one Club's Into Film Festival Visits

14 Jan 2020

8 mins
Dunn Street Primary, Jarrow
Dunn Street Primary, Jarrow

Dunn Street Primary School in Jarrow, near Newcastle, recently took pupils from each year group to the Into Film Festival, and teacher Jane Baxter got in touch to explain the wide-reaching impact of their Festival visits and the Into Film offer in general. She also told us how her Into Film Club went about raising money to help pay for students' travel expenses in what is an economically deprived area.

Into Film's Daniel Jarvis recently visited Dunn Street to see their Into Film Club in action. "I had the privilege of visiting Dunn Street Primary School and it was a pleasure to see Jane's Into Film Club in action. All of the club members were engaged with the review tasks Jane set the group, with the older members helping the young ones with their film reviews. There was a real sense that the club was a big part of the school, a club that the children got so much from.

Below, Jane tells us about her film club in her own words.

At Dunn Street Primary, we are a small school of approximately 150 children in a very deprived area of North East England. As such, there are many of our children who do not get the opportunity to visit the cinema with their families. Sadly, it is financially prohibitive for many of our parents to afford to provide such a luxury for their children. Many of our children never leave Jarrow unless it is on a school trip.

It was a fortunate day indeed for the children of Dunn Street when we began our little Into Film Club. The original intention was to try to improve literacy, critical thinking, observation and comprehension for the KS2 children in a fun and lighthearted way. Once we had signed up it became apparent that the school could utilise the resources and events on offer from Into Film to provide a far more exciting experience for children throughout the school.

There was a real sense that the film club was a big part of the school; it's a club that the children got so much from.

Daniel Jarvis, Into Film

The first instance of this was an e-mail I received informing us of an educational screening of The LEGO® Movie. It was discussed and agreed that the children in KS1/Year 2 (who had had a stressful year with a change of teacher mid term and SATs) would benefit from this screening. It would provide them with a bit of respite from the hard work that they had been doing for their SATs. 

A free screening of a movie before its release date was indeed an experience that none of our children had ever had. The stumbling block came when we went to book a bus to get us to the event. The event was fairly local, only 4 miles away, but not easily reached via public transport. When we investigated the price of a small coach to transport the class, the cheapest quote we received was still going to cost £9 per child. This made the wonderful opportunity of attending the screening out of reach for more than half of the class.

After looking at finances again, our film club had banked a small amount of money from running a tuck shop and it was agreed that our funds could be used to supplement the cost of the coach travel for Year 2. This brought the cost down to £5, per child. Year 2 loved the movie and our film club also provided each of them with a bag of popcorn to add to their enjoyment.

The idea of having an 'Oscars Party' was born from this. The film club had a little bit of money left from tuck shop sales and the children unanimously voted in favour of the whole school benefiting and having fun from what was going to be their end of term party.

A small affair turned into a rather larger affair, with the whole school, parents and siblings being invited to celebrate the achievements of film club members, our Review of the Week winner Jonathan, and the other children who had worked really hard with reviews and film club worksheets. All of their hard work filtered through to a notable improvement in class literacy achievements. 

They each received an "Oscar" and, thanks to the kindness of our regional Into Film representative Daniel Jarvis, prizes were also given. Staff raided their cupboards and provided raffle prizes. In keeping with our theme of that term - true stories - we watched The Greatest Showman (sing-a-long version!) and spot prizes were given to children singing along. Prizes were also given to children who got up and entertained us with their dance routines at an area of the hall set aside.

Money was raised from the sale of tickets at £2 for non-film club members to cover the cost of a 'Movie Munch Deal' (popcorn, crisps, juice and a sandwich) and overheads for the party decorations. Money raised on the night from a tuck shop and raffle along with film club funds from that term gave us a positive balance of approximately £250.00 - a massive achievement for the cohort!

On return to school in September 2019, I was excited to approach our Assistant Head with news about the Into Film Festival and the opportunity for the whole school to see a free movie screening. 

Again, cost of transport reared it's ugly head. This time, however, a solution was at hand: money raised at our Oscars Party would cover the cost of a 'School Metro Pass', which would enable 40 children and 10 adults to travel for free on the Metro. Not only that, but the Metro Pass would last for a whole school year, so children would be able to travel for free to any school trips that were on the Metro line - a huge cost saving for parents. 

It was decided every class would go to a screening during the Into Film Festival and travel by Metro, making it completely free to every child in the school. Again our film club (and my poor beaten-up popcorn maker) provided every child with a bag of popcorn for their trip.

The benefits of the Into Film Festival visits on our children have been amazing:

  • Improvements in attitude to learning and attendance in school improved
  • There was a notable buzz in the air throughout every class in the school as the Into Film Festival grew near
  • Children's morale and moods lifted
  • Teachers incorporated some of the resources into their lessons, saving them time and providing top-quality curriculum-linked worksheets. Children were also more engaged with these topics thanks to the cinema trips
  • The social interaction and life-skills lessons gained from this experience on safety, crossing the road, local landmarks and representing the school whilst travelling on public transport cannot be underestimated. Questions such as "Where are we now?" and being able to point things out to them on the route map. Other comments included with "Look at that crane! There is a little crane on top of a big one! What's that for Miss?" (I wish I knew, but civil engineering is a step too far for me), "I've never been to a big cinema before - it's amazing!!!" , "Wow it's so big!!!" , and "Look at all the people here! Every school in the world is here!" [Editor's Note: while we can't claim every school in the world attended, the 2019 Into Film Festival did see our highest ever audience numbers]
  • Some very practical observations were made inside the cinema too. One query - "Feel the walls Miss, they are fluffy and soft, what's that for?" - even provided an impromptu opportunity to link our visit to the science curriculum with a little information on soundproofing
  • Entering the competition with the hope of winning a tablet has facilitated some wonderful review planning homework
  • ICT lessons are being used in KS2 to teach skills such as formatting reviews on a word document, adding these as an attachment to an e-mail, and sending them off to Into Film
  • Returning to school, the children were full of chat about the movie and their visit to such a big cinema: "I didn't like that film at all....... I LOVED IT!!!!", "This is the best day of my life", and "Can we do this again Miss?" were just a few of the comments.
  • Some further comments from follow up lessons: "This is so much fun it's not like work" "It's like having games instead of lessons but we're still learning - at least that's what my teacher says."

Feedback from parents has been positive too. We have many sibling groups in the school, and trips like this for multiple children is a financial strain even to those parents who are working. "Thank you so much for providing it for free", said one parent, while others said "The kids have loved the movies" and asked "When is the next party?".

The biggest thanks belong to Into Film, without whom none of this would be possible. Our children have had a truly holistic learning experience: their social, psychological, educational, physical (it's a ½ mile walk to the Metro Station from school - so they completed a 1 mile walk too) and wellbeing were all positively enhanced by the generosity of the Into Film Festival.

There really are no words to express the gratitude that we as a school feel in seeing the children's faces light up, listening to them laugh and talk, engage wholeheartedly in fun lessons and discussions, and watching them interact animatedly with each other as well as the lessons.

From Staff, Parents, Governors and Children of Dunn Street Primary School - THANK YOU.

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