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Film Studies in 2018: A discussion


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A discussion on Facebook about the dwindling numbers of students electing to study Film at GCSE / AS/A Level. Hopefully with the beginnings of a plan to tackle the issues.

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Film Studies in 2018: A discussion

  1. 1. Film Studies in 2018+ The issue: • Dwindling numbers of students taking GCSE and AS/A Level film as option subjects. • Schools, Colleges and Sixth Forms not offering GCSE and AS/A Level film as option subjects. • Schools, Colleges and Sixth Forms removing GCSE and AS/A Level film as option subjects. • Schools, Colleges and Sixth Forms not supporting GCSE and AS/A Level courses when established. The causes: Multitudinous. Often cited on the Facebook discussions are reasons such as: • Budgets being squeezed and curriculums narrowed to cut costs. • Ebacc pressure/restrictions on curriculum offers at GCSE. • Lack of parental understanding/support around the subject. • National promotion of STEM subjects. • Misconception regarding career pathways of film students. • Denigration of the arts from a wide variety of influences. • Promotion of ‘prestige’ subjects/options within institutions. • Lack of financial support for Film studies as opposed to other subjects. The ideas to arrest the declines: In no specific order, here are some of the ideas/suggestions provided from the Facebook groups: • “Some form of wider online community that links teachers, parents, students and employers” • “Making it explicit how film and English skills overlap is a good way of promoting the subject too in this way. Also, I think getting educational charities that offer school based experiences or workshops ACROSS THE COUNTRY NOT JUST IN LONDON” • Establishing film and media related careers in any in school careers guidance days would help students and parents to see the subject as functional and useful and aspirational, rather than just a qualification in watching films! • “I think we need to consider engaging industry” • “some options evenings materials aimed at changing peoples perceptions of Film Studies” • “use the skills shortage info that someone else posted ages ago to show firstly that their are valid job prospects and second that there are other significant cross-curricular links, such as Business.” • “approach the industry itself. I was recently asking someone in the industry why they had set up an academy school linked to a British Studio, and he told me it was to overcome the severe skills shortage in the industry currently.” • “speaking to rescue our schools which is about the crisis of the whole education system.” • “speak to local universities about how they can support you.” • “an open letter to share with the university film studies community too to support the A Level programme.” • “we could work together on creating an amazing open day pack/ workshop plan or even film studies promo film to use?” • “central location to meet should we need to is still there.”
  2. 2. • “possible publication of open letter to BAFTSS (British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies) on their website or new open access journal 'Open Screens’…they could support schools and colleges - e.e.g making more links with A Level teachers, lobbying, etc” • “campaign is needed to change perceptions of film and media studies. Happy to help if I can. As mentioned, a promo film would be a great idea. Link this to a social media campaign” • “a centralised approach pulling in not just educators but also organisations such as into film anything that promotes film as a learning experience should logically promote the subject. “ • “contacting the MEA?” • “stressing the transferable skills gained by studying both subjects could help? We have parents, students and even other staff who believe that universities don't count them as 'real' A Levels and it's very frustrating.” • “host a series of parent engagement evenings … explained different job/apprenticehip opportunities etc, as well as the more usual 'what can I do at home to support my child?' type of advice. The next session will be on the examiners expectations…the final session will be a 'masterclass' where I teach them an aspect of the course”
  3. 3. Possible plan (potentially in this order?) 1. Forming a group. Planning to ideally meet in person or at the least set-up an email exchange/ Twitter account/Facebook page/group. 2. An open letter that explains our collective frustration. Sent to relevant bodies, including Government. Support from the letter could (should) come from industry as well as lobby groups/charities/exam boards. Supported by/impressed upon groups such as networks of Heads/Academy chains etc. 3. Then, working together to form a series of materials to help promote the subject for options/ open evenings. Eduqas are already working on this but I’m sure there will more we’d want to expand on. 4. Involve current film education bodies such as BFI, intoFilm and more, to actively promote film as an academic subject at GCSE / AS / A Level. 5. Next, dialogue/discussions with Universities, especially Russell Group institutions in creating specific links, perhaps such as ‘reduced tariff entry pathways’ for potential film students/ current film students / taster-days for film courses etc, support for coursework for both GCSE / AS/A Level in allowing students to access equipment/libraries. 6. Dialogue/discussions with industry figures in creating specific pathways and routes into film careers/industry that are linked directly with schools and colleges, not just restricted to Technical Colleges. These could be for apprenticeships, part-time or voluntary work or even work experience. 7. Finally, a nationwide campaign of films focusing on a range of reasons for taking film as a subject that highlights the benefits academically and professionally. This would, ideally be fronted by well-known personalities and would provide examples of jobs, roles and skills in the industry and explain how film education has helped them/would benefit potential film students.