Young people are the most intensive users of moving image. Every nine days, as much moving image is uploaded to YouTube as the BBC has broadcast in its entire history. Such an explosion in creation and self-distribution provides a fertile arena for the future of education. The young have the clearest vision of where screen-based communication, entertainment, knowledge and learning will fit into their lives.
Our ambition is to create clear progression paths, both for future audiences as they develop a passion for film, and for talented young people who will be the future of our film industry.
Film Forever marked a significant step in film education. For the first time a substantial Lottery investment was made to create Into Film, now a successful organisation that delivers a programme of film-related activities for five to 19 year olds. We also led programmes to offer audiences a wider cultural programme, including film heritage freely available on the BFI Player for greater choice online.
Now that these initiatives are maturing, we have the opportunity to map together education, learning, and skills development across all our funded partners and start to look at how our UK-wide venue partners, BFI Player and other online partnerships can become more relevant to young people, our future audiences.
This is against a backdrop in which arts and culture have lost ground in the curriculum, especially in England. The increased focus on science, technology and maths – including a narrower scope for the study of English – has squeezed out time for the arts. Last year the Warwick Commission described the resulting inequality in access to culture as “bad for business and bad for society”.
This is at a time when the film and screen industries in the UK were punching well above their weight. Between 2009 and 2013, employment in the core UK film sector grew by 21.6 per cent. This may have substantially outpaced the economy-wide increase of three per cent, but will be difficult to sustain without skills development across many key professions. And this must start in the classroom.
The growth in the film economy underlines the value of continued support for Into Film’s early career awareness programmes and the imperative need to sustain the Department for Education-backed BFI Film Academy programme for talented 16-19 year olds. However, it is imperative that the arts, including film, are celebrated and explored in formal education. Without this grounding for all, it will be difficult to strengthen links to a professional training framework that will ensure the industry is being provided with a workforce equipped with relevant skills. Film, of all the arts, is highly relevant to modern society.
These are core issues for the BFI, and we have organised our education and skills objectives around the following three themes:
1. Reaching out to the next generation of audiences by building on the success of Into Film, and forging new partnerships
Into Film has built strong foundations for this next phase of our audience development strategy, particularly with the network of nearly 10,000 active film clubs and with an unparalleled geographic and socio-economic reach. Sustaining its work remains a priority.
For decades museums and galleries across the UK have offered world-leading programmes that bring our culture and heritage to different audiences. Imaginative examples of film and film heritage being used in a compelling and educative way do exist across our partners and at the BFI, but they remain fragmented. In an era where the very audience we seek to work with is already willingly conversant with the moving image, we aspire to create programmes around our culture and heritage which can deepen their love and understanding of film in all its diversity.
We know that taking part in making a film – offering a hands-on experience – in the context of watching great examples of how the masters of cinema have achieved it, is a fast-track route that many young people find particularly inspiring. Our proposal is a new approach to hands-on filmmaking and learning opportunities in venues, complemented by initiatives which reach into the online world – the natural environment for young people.
This will be a joint venture, across all of Into Film’s clubs, the Film Audience Network, key exhibitors, the Regional Film Archives, our colleagues from the Nations and the BFI, among others – pooling resources and learning, syndicating our plans, and collectively boosting impact across the UK.
What will we do?
- We will support Into Film to bring a more curated approach to its programming, introduce new digital delivery methods, and mobilise its valuable army of club volunteers
- We will work with our partners to develop new in-venue educational programmes for young people across the UK, based on British contemporary film and heritage
- We will develop a set of ‘learning journeys’ through film culture which add up, over time, to a comprehensive online cultural ‘curriculum’.
2. We will advocate for the value of film in education – and by extension, the public perception of film as an art form
We will initiate a major evidence-based demonstration of the value of film and moving image in the classroom. We will energise educational experts, teachers, filmmakers, and especially parents, to lead a strong and constructive engagement with policy-makers.
The evidence in favour of film in education, both as an art form in its own right and as a conduit for learning for many other subjects, continues to grow. Film education’s contribution to individual attainment, confidence, teamworking, and technical and practical skills, is hard to ignore. Nor should we forget the power of school-based guidance to raise awareness of the multitude of careers in the media industry.
We will also align our advocacy with the arguments of Livingstone and Hope, in their influential report Next Gen, that success in the digital creative sector is dependent on a cross-curricular approach that combines art, design and programming. The case for transforming the core curriculum from STEM (science, technology and maths) to STEAM (including the arts) remains compelling. Film, we will demonstrate, is the art form with the rich technical and scientific background that, along with gaming, can achieve that transformation.
What will we do?
- We will convene an expert leadership group, working with Into Film, to help run pilot schemes, gather more evidence in favour of the study of film, and develop a manifesto for film in the classroom
- We will work closely with subject teaching associations and education policy-makers to strengthen opportunities to teach film as an art form
- We will improve access to curated film and television collections for all education institutions, by working in partnership with broadcasters and rights holders
3. Leading, alongside Creative Skillset, on the development of a professional skills framework for new entrants and employees in the creative screen industries
The UK film and screen industries are of huge economic value and cultural benefit, yet an important study being undertaken by the BFI, to be launched in the new year, shows that rapid growth and technological change are contributing to serious skills challenges and labour shortages, and threatening the continued prosperity of the sector.
Our aim is on the development of a unified, clearly signposted, industry-backed and adequately funded professional skills framework for new entrants and employees in the creative screen industries
The evidence reveals ongoing, and in some cases worsening, challenges around diversity. There was clear consensus from multiple consultations that a lack of diversity was the biggest challenge facing the sector. Those from less advantaged backgrounds experienced significant barriers to entering and progressing in the industry.
An analysis of higher and further education reveals a large potential supply of available skills. That this exists at the same time as skills shortages within the industry suggests a mismatch between skills needed by employers and the skills provided by the education system.
The delivery of the needed changes will require collaboration between the education sector, LEPs, and the industry, with the full support of the Government and the devolved administrations, and very careful consideration given to how the Technical Education Reform and new Apprenticeship Levy model can best be leveraged to ensure the industry has the skills it needs.
To take a wider view of that future, we set up, with Creative Skillset, a high-level industry steering board and commissioned:
- An overview of the workforce and skills issues in the film and screen industries
- An analysis of the skills challenges facing the film and screen industries from expert consultation
- An analysis of current skills provision and audit of future skills needs to help us understand and meet this challenge
- Strategic objectives and priority actions to address the findings
What will we do?
The audit identified three programmes of change:
Overhaul the Film Skills Infrastructure
In order to build a pipeline of talent to support growth we will:
- Create a single coherent source of high quality careers information for the screen industry, developed by employers, used by learners, and embedded within national careers resources and education
- Work with CS to refresh the training accreditation scheme so that employers know where to recruit
- Explore the opportunities for the introduction of specific training centres of excellence for film and screen skills
- Work with Government and industry to ensure that the new post-16 technical education system develops knowledge and skills that are valued in the screen industries
- Support the industry in the development of New Apprenticeship Standards and pilot an Apprenticeship Training Agency
- Invest in a regular programme of market insight research
A lack of diversity was universally cited as one of the biggest challenges, with unified commitment to delivering a step-change in the make-up of the film industry. The BFI Diversity Standards is the first initiative of its kind to make funding conditional on improved diversity, and in the future we will:
- Work with producers active in the UK to create the right conditions so that all UK productions can voluntarily adopt the Diversity Standards
- Devise and support interventions that increase the diversity of the workforce, including establishing ongoing support initiatives to help individuals navigate and progress their careers
- Build on and further professionalise the DfE-backed BFI Film Academy, continuing to ensure that our participants are from a range of diverse backgrounds
- Work closely with partners within the industry, and also make new relationships with specialist diversity partners, to help us drive and lead change
Continued Professional Development
Skills shortages were found at many levels and grades within the industry. The importance of increasing skill levels throughout an individual’s career has proven impacts on productivity and growth, which is good for film as well as for the economy. It is important that we enable more businesses and workers to invest in training and boost their skills. We will:
- Develop a unified scheme to ensure working professionals know where to find quality industry-endorsed training
- Support the development of a leadership programme for the screen industries