How film club can benefit students in a Pupil Referral Unit

22 May 2017 in Into Film Club of the Month

2 mins
Young people watching old film in a club
Young people watching old film in a club

Our Leader of the Month for May 2017 is Zahra Bei, a teacher at Burnside Secondary Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) in the North of London. Burnside Secondary's club members have won numerous Review of the Week awards, and in running a film club at a PRU, Zahra has a unique insight into the benefits film and film club can have on young people.

How long have you been running your film club? 

The club has been running since 2012.

Your colleague now also runs a film club - what are the benefits of having two clubs running at the school?

We run separate timetables and school days at KS3 and KS4, but we wanted to make sure all students benefited and had the chance to learn through and about film. It is great having two club leaders at the school for the first time, as we work collaboratively on schemes of work, film suggestions, trips, best activities, etc.

Why is the film club so important to the young people at your PRU?

Film offers so much! It is very inclusive and egalitarian, pedagogically. What that means to us, is that both the teaching and learning that happen in lessons are equally accessible to students of all abilities, backgrounds and interests. Learning through film offers the opportunity to travel across historical periods, geographical areas, cultures, languages, and lifestyles - to mention but a few - so that students can engage with storytelling in a unique way. Each film covers such a range of themes and so it is truly a cross-curricular experience.

A while ago you completed our PRU filmmaking project Keeping it Showreel - Have you been able to carry on your filmmaking journey since?

We have continued to allocate a two-week off-timetable slot in the Summer Term to filmmaking (which is set in the school calendar from the start of the academic year). The students attend a venue off-site and, with the help of a local film-making company, produce their own film - which is also awarded an Arts Award Bronze Level qualification (for those students who attend and complete the portfolios, along with the practical aspects of the project). We are about to start our sixth film, exploring British values.

Did you manage to attend last year's Into Film Festival? 

We attend the Into Film Festival every Autumn term and enjoy it greatly. This year we watched Independence Day: ResurgenceThe Danish GirlArrival and The Color Purple.

How do you encourage review writing? 

We use a range of strategies and try to maintain a consistently familiar rhythm to the lessons, so the students become familiar with the expectation that we don't "just watch films and eat popcorn" (although we do do that too, of course!). We discuss the film or the genre, the theme, the director, or even the promotional posters, etc before, during and after viewing (we watch films over a number of lessons). We use the 3Cs and the 3Ss resources, as well as the many film review tips available on the Into Film website. We also read professional film critics' reviews sometimes, and/or reviews written by students from other schools, which our pupils really enjoy doing.

You have won multiple Review of the Week prizes at your club. What are your top review writing tips? 

We make it fun; a little competitive. Students want to beat each other, so having one winning review has prompted the next, and so on. We constantly look at how progress has been made by students, by looking at their work over time as a class (most students are happy and proud to show their work on the projector, even those who previously wouldn't have been). It's a very open, collaborative and supportive approach, as students give each other constructive feedback. We have also produced a Film Student Gallery, which is on display in the school's main corridor. There are many other displays in the teaching classroom, with helpful materials aiding the whole process, including, key words, film review structure, prompts, banned words, etc.

What are your top recommended films you've watched with your club members?

This year the students have watched a wide range of films and not just in Literacy Through Film lessons. The films they enjoyed the most were: 

If there is one other bit of advice you could offer new Into Film club leaders, what would it be? 

Don't delay - start one. You will not regret it. The resources provided are excellent; the support from the coordinator is first class; and it's all FREE! 

Involve the students in the film ordering process. Invite students to critique different aspects of the films and ban certain words (ask them which ones - you'll be amazed at how critically they think), in order to extend and develop literacy. After watching a film, ask students to interview each other (there's a worksheet on the website for this) and get them to video it. 

Above all, have fun!

This Article is part of: Into Film Club of the Month

Each month we celebrate one Into Film Club's achievements and talk to the club leader about how they approach their sessions.

View other Articles in this column

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