What children gain from school film clubs

Movie reel
Film clubs are enjoying a resurgence of interest thanks to a new scheme which provides schools with a range of films and the technology to screen them. Schools claim the learning opportunities are broad. We sent Emily Organ to investigate.
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Going to the movies or watching films at home are popular extra-curricular activities for many families. And now a new government backed scheme called Filmclub is helping schools show films to their pupils, too.

What are the benefits?

Kirk Henry is co-ordinator of media studies and literacy co-ordinator at Sir William Stanier Community School in Cheshire. He runs a film club for years 7 to 9. Their film club is open five days a week with three sessions at lunchtime and two after school when other members of the community and siblings can attend, too.

They watch a variety of films from foreign language and low budget movies to blockbusters such as Avatar and Harry Potter. “Film club helps the children’s literacy skills,” says Henry, “After we’ve watched a film we discuss it. The children then write their own review of the film and this can really help their analytical skills.”

What’s Filmclub?

Filmclub was established in 2006 to help schools set up their own film clubs. It’s supported by the Department for Education along with LoveFilm, The Guardian, the UK Film Council and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. More than 2000 schools have signed up and 30,000 children are benefitting.

FilmClub's free service provides screening equipment and films once a week to schools. A popular add-on are the hosted talks and workshops where children get a chance to meet professionals working in the industry.

Children and film clubs

The pupils at Sir William Stanier School run the activities themselves - they choose the films and take pride in their ownership of the club. They also make their own short films too, which involves scripting, filming, directing and editing. Henry says that for some children film club isn’t just a hobby, it’s opening their eyes to a valid career path. Some of their film reviews have featured in Shout Magazine and the Times Educational Supplement.
Film clubs may also give children an opportunity to enter national competitions where they can submit their reviews, design posters, write scripts, create short films or take photographs. Children’s reviews of films are also featured on the Filmclub website so they can be read by their families and other participating schools.

Get a film club started in your school

  • Get together the children and teachers interested in a film club and decide when and how often it should be held.
  • Decide which part of the school could be used for screenings. It needs to be a room which can be darkened easily. The school hall might be suitable or a classroom with blinds.
  • You can put on your own screenings or get in touch with Filmclub who will provide the screening equipment and film free of charge if your school is a state school. Maybe you could invite mums, dads, siblings and other members of the family to a screening. You could even charge them a small entry fee as a fundraising activity.
  • Decide how you’re going to make the most of the films you watch. Will you discuss them after a screening? Will the children write reviews?
  • Have a think about other activities the children can do, such as writing their own script or something themselves.