Film education strategy – your responses

Read a summary of the main issues and ideas we’ve gathered from your feedback for a new education strategy.

Definition and importance

How would you define film, television and moving image education (‘film education’)?

  • There was general agreement that it should link viewing, exploring, making and understanding and should involve active engagement.

How relevant is the relationship, if any, between film education and education through film?

  • Several responses said that for ‘education through film’ to be effective it has to be based on a critical understanding of film reading and production contexts.
  • People also felt that learning about the world through film must be coupled with learning about film itself as they give context to each other.
  • Film is seen as important across the curriculum.
  • It is important not to confuse the two.

What are the key issues in film education for each of the following audience segments?

Pre-school and families

  • Parents need the right tools and information to help them watch films with children as a shared learning experience.
  • Young audiences are surprisingly receptive to more ‘difficult’ material, especially when viewed in a cinema space.
  • Cinemas should be prepared to take more risks with this audience. They need greater access to more diverse films from around the world.
  • It is important to make parents aware of the value of film.
  • There is a lack of understanding (by policy makers) about the importance of film in young children’s lives.

5-19 year olds

  • There was a feeling that teachers lacked confidence in using film in the classroom.
  • Films are used as ‘treats’ not for active learning.
  • Problems around certification, school filters and local authority restrictions were highlighted.
  • A feeling that there has been too much focus on mainstream films rather than on challenging, experimental and world cinema.
  • A clear need to recognise differences across the nations.
  • Film is marginal in the curriculum and Media Studies is often seen as a soft subject.
  • There is an uneven standard of filmmaking equipment and expertise in schools.
  • Teachers need access to a wide range of downloadable resources. Streaming is not enough.
  • There is a need to enable practical making not just watching.
  • Special schools were seen as a potential source of innovation.
  • The UK Audience Network and Hubs have a role in working with schools.
  • It is important to encourage young people to be more active in their choice and response to film material.
  • Some felt that the 5-19 grouping was too large and that it would be better to address compulsory and non-compulsory education separately.


  • Film/media studies is seen as extra-curricular rather than key.
  • There was general agreement that teachers lack confidence and knowledge in this area of learning.
  • Working with head teachers was seen as important.
  • An urgent need was identified for bespoke PGCE courses to train teachers as experts in GCSE and A Level Film and Media Studies. This could include links to BFI Film Academy network.
  • It was suggested that a conference around using film/media in the classroom might catalyse positive change.
  • Sustained and systematic CPD, ITT and Train the Trainers were needed – in film education/literacy, filmmaking/technology, and using film across the curriculum in all subjects.
  • Resources should be developed with relevant films/clips as teachers often don’t have the time to do a lot of research or acquire knowledge of the material.
  • There is a need to provide downloadable copyright-free films for creative repurposing.

Higher and further education

How would you describe the importance of film, television and moving image in our cultural life, and what are the educational implications?

  • It is hard for potential entrants to assess the value of courses and which ones prioritise theory over practice. They need guidance or a roadmap to make this clearer.
  • It was suggested that financial cuts are limiting the ability to stay up-to-date with technology and skills.
  • There is a need for a better dialogue with schools and teachers. Efforts should be made to enhance awareness of the value of the subject for further study.

Informal adult and community learning

  • Request for training community education workers.
  • There is a need for some kind of accreditation.
  • The potential for adult filmmaking courses should be investigated.
  • Events should be provided for older people.
  • Some thought that this sector was much less important than formal education which should be the priority.
  • Many saw the BFI library and the BFI National Archive as world-class resources which should be utilised for this age group in particular.
  • Key partnerships should be made with organisations such as the University of the Third Age, independent cinemas and Hub Lead Organisations.
  • Experienced film educators (in cinemas) already offer a wide range range of courses, workshops, conferences, etc. for this group.
  • The BFI should explore the potential of the library but this would need curatorial support.
  • Online and broadcast delivery would provide greatest reach.
  • This group is more likely to be more self-motivated, opening up opportunities for sharing online. Film discussion groups were seen as important.
  • There was general consensus that it is crucial to a 21st century mediatised society and that teaching needs to go beyond the mainstream, encouraging engagement.
  • Archive and heritage film is important in constructing contemporary identity.

How can we measure progress?

What indicators can help us to measure the value of film education for different age groups?

  • There was a very wide range of responses with little consensus.
  • Suggested measures included increased participation, the willingness to engage with unfamiliar and more complex examples and critical engagement.
  • Another measure is progress in English and writing.
  • There is a need for long-term research.
  • Some research on this has been carried out by Scottish Screen.

How well is existing film education serving the needs of a diverse society? Are there specific needs we should meet with communities of black and ethnic minorities, women, LGBT, and the economically/skill-deprived?

  • Some felt that the best way to improve access is to make film education more widely available, embed it in the curriculum, and recognise its effectiveness for promoting inclusion.
  • It was recognised that film education is an effective tool for engagement.
  • Universal entitlement is important and communities should be consulted.
  • Some felt that outside London the provision is limited.

What is the appropriate balance between targeted educational outcomes and long term cultural enrichment? How important is accreditation as a measure of achievement?

  • Accreditation was generally felt to be vital, especially in formal education, as a way of validating the subject (though some disagreed).

How important is a ladder of progression from early engagement with film through to the acquisition of production and industry related skills? To what extent is that ladder of progression already in place?

  • There was no consensus on this. Some felt that a ladder of progression is vital but needs to be flexible, others felt it was irrelevant.
  • There were some strongly held views that industry skills should not be a key focus and that cineliteracy was much more important.
  • Some people mentioned existing progression models such as those included in Making Movies Matter.
  • There was recognition that graduates need help and skills development to enable them to move into the industry.

What is the role of the commercial sector in supporting film education?

  • It could provide access to filmmakers, support, sponsorship, and copyright materials. It could also make available production notes, storyboards and other paperwork that can help learning about the filmmaking process, marketing etc.
  • Positive views were expressed about the contribution of the BFI Film Academies.
  • There was some concern that focusing on the commercial sector could lead to a prioritisation of mainstream films.
  • The BFI could help and encourage the industry to work together. It tends to act on its own interests and resources are usually promotional rather than educational.
  • There is a strong need for up-to-date materials on development, production, digital processing/editing, certification, marketing etc.
  • It is important to engage with television industries because it is often TV which engages with topics across the curriculum.

What networks exist to share our learning about film education and are they effective in promoting success?

  • A range of networks were mentioned, including NIMEA (Northern Ireland Media Education Association, AMES (Association for Media Education in Scotland), YCANS (Young Cinema Audiences Network Scotland), CILECT (International Grouping of Film and Television Schools), GEECT (European Grouping of Film and Television Schools), BAFTSS (British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies), NAHEMI (National Association for Higher Education in the Moving Image), MOVieS group (Moving Image Education Specialists in film exhibition venues), BFI LP (Lead Practitioner networks).
  • There was a feeling that existing networks have limited reach and effectiveness.
  • There is a problem with a lack of coherence or consistent links with schools – teachers are unaware of research and resources.

How will the future look?

What is the likely future landscape of formal and informal film education? What are the evolutionary trends in learning, technology and pedagogy that will affect it between now and 2025?

  • There were very diverse responses.
  • Greater access to production, especially with mobile devices.
  • More focus on fusion/soft skills.
  • Face-to-face learning will remain important.
  • The relationship between formal and informal education should be more embracing.
  • Film education will need to be flexible to keep up.
  • Changes in the National Curriculum suggest that the future for film education could be quite bleak.

How do you see the position of such key concepts such as media literacy, media studies, cultural education and copyright education in a broad strategy for film and moving image education?

  • They were seen as increasingly important, but copyright education in a narrow anti-piracy sense was felt to be of limited value by most who mentioned it.
  • It was suggested that film studies should reposition itself within audio/visual and internet studies.
  • It was suggested that these concepts need to be integrated into all aspects of learning. This is especially true when there’s an economic/employment demand for skills related to creativity, problem solving and independent learning.

What are the intrinsic opportunities of online film education, beyond its role as a low cost distributor?

  • Forums for discussion, e.g. timed screenings with Q&As; distributing lesson plans and tools; build communities of interest to extend reach.
  • But there is a danger that it will only increase divide between those with and without access or cultural capital.
  • It was felt that online provision needed to be combined with face-to-face.
  • Educators and learners must be able to download materials and that online resources ought to complement the curriculum.
  • A feeling that online provision should be suitable for different levels of learners – BFI Screenonline was seen as an excellent example.
  • The BFI player could produce a basis for the future.
  • The ability to make connections between resources, training, downloadable films and clips for repurposing.
  • It could appeal to younger audiences who might be turned off by formal education.
  • Learners can engage with online resources at a pace that suits them.
  • It would enable the ability to build communities of interest.
  • One person suggested that online provision carried a danger of didacticism online.
  • There was a request for free educational access to Sight and Sound and the Monthly Film Bulletin digital archives.
  • Quality content is essential for effective online learning.

Technology has lowered the barriers to filmmaking for young people, and has increased the potential availability of our film heritage. How should we be taking advantage of these new opportunities?

  • They should be used to deliver learning as well as content.
  • More archive material should be made available (including for creative repurposing).
  • A range of films and extracts should be made accessible – curated, linked to the curriculum and easily searchable.
  • Facilitate virtual networks of young creatives with opportunities to safely share and showcase their work.
  • It is important to teach film storytelling skills (not just technical) and contexts and that young filmmakers are encouraged to explore their film heritage.
  • Barriers around copyright for educational purposes should be rethought. Young people are able to access to media that leads them to expect unfettered access to content. Without free access to investigate film heritage material, can we expect them to explore more challenging materials on their own?
  • The was an appetite for making film heritage available online – the better curated it is, the more people with watch and appreciate it.
  • Idea to create an app or online platform which explores film heritage, linking the past to the trends and styles of today’s important films.

The role of the BFI

What is the specific role of the BFI in a shared, comprehensive strategy for film education? What is the appropriate balance between the different roles of leadership, strategic direction, advocacy, direct provision, mediation, and resource provision?

  • Advocacy for film education, making the case to Government (in partnership with the UK Screen Agencies).
  • Making archives accessible and linking films to the National Curriculum and Schemes of Work.
  • Developing more resources like Story Shorts.
  • Integrating the Southbank education team into a UK-wide approach, with greater recognition of its Education department.
  • Ensuring/mediating relationships between Into Film and other providers and ensuring that Into Film operates to the highest standards. There were requests for clarity about the roles of Into Film and BFI Education.
  • Providing greater support for existing organisations and networks by providing grants and mentoring.
  • Seeking to ensure that film is included in BBC’s definition of the arts and seek to ensure that film is covered on BBC channels.
  • Providing resources and high quality teaching support.
  • Providing leadership which unites the sector – production, distribution, exhibition and education.
  • Working with HUBs in education.
  • There was general consensus that the BFI should provide strategic leadership while recognising differences between nations.
  • It should have the sense of the whole UK picture and be less London-centric.
  • BFI membership needs to be updated as it seems to be only about life and leisure in London.

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  • Into Film

    Into Film

    A funding scheme for education activities, encouraging 5-19 year olds across the UK to watch, make and understand film.

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