Using Film in Schools

This interactive guide explains what you need to use film in the classroom. It gives examples of where film fits into the curriculum, the equipment you need for delivering film education, and where to find sources of support and funding. The original PDF version is a free 50-page document; this online version adds equipment recommendations and teaching techniques, and we’re also planning to include examples of work.

This is a guide for schools who want to deliver film activities in and out of the classroom. Using film in Schools: A Practical Guide will help teachers and headteachers integrate filmmaking, watching and critical analysis across the curriculum.


Using Film

Spaces and equipment

Support and Resources

Film education and law

Sections added by MediaEd

Teaching about films

Teaching filmmaking

The guide is part of Film: 21st Century Literacy, a 3-year Strategy to recognise the value of film in education. Film: 21st Century Literacy is funded by the UK Film Council and delivered by the British Film Institute, Skillset, Film Education, First Light and FILMCLUB. We are also working with Partnerships for Schools to publish this guide.

Over the past year, schools have asked us a number of questions: what kind of equipment should we be buying? What’s the best school environment for watching or making films? How do we ensure we don’t breach copyright? What other partners can we work with? Are there any other resources?

Film can be delivered in schools easily and relatively cheaply. This guide will show you how.

Raising standards with film

Film is increasingly being recognised by teachers as a valuable tool that can be used to re-engage young people with the curriculum, and increase their overall motivation for learning.

Film is very popular with young people. They are not afraid to use it in lessons, and enjoy doing so. Film is a tool you can use to motivate and engage pupils in the classroom, and contextualise difficult areas of the curriculum.

Film can help children to be more positive about the whole school experience, and showing films to children that go beyond Hollywood is recognised by teachers as helping to broaden their pupils’ minds.

Media Education Wales’ Ffilmschool 2 transition project, in a South Wales cluster, has shown that teaching with film can make the majority of students more interested in writing. The project made the students’ writing more descriptive and enhanced their range of expressions. In another project funded by the BFI, the percentage of children writing at their expected class level rose from 29% to 75%.
“The video workshops have helped my writing because I am forced to focus on one thing at a time and think about it in-depth.” (Ffilmschool 2 pupil)

The Projector world cinema project run by the Cornerhouse Cinema in association with Manchester Metropolitan University and Routes Into Languages used world cinema to teach foreign languages. Following the project, the numbers of young people who said they now wanted to go on to study languages at A-level rose by 20%.
“Learning Arabic in a creative environment like the cinema and gallery spaces was very stimulating and motivating…I’ve seen improvements in my students’ confidence and in using Arabic.” (Teacher)

A project in the East Midlands offered teachers in schools across eight local authorities the chance to use film for a year. Many had never done so before. By the end of the first year, two thirds were reporting that the project had made them more enthusiastic about teaching, and had changed their pedagogy. 100% of teachers felt that film could reach difficult or challenging pupils (80% strongly).

Going beyond Hollywood

We know that young people are eager to watch new kinds of films. They are not put off by subtitles, and even very young children are keen to experiment with new genres.

There is a huge range of films available for young people: archive, animation, European and world cinema, short films and documentaries. Film education plugs a gap by taking them beyond Hollywood. It broadens the minds of young people and provides them with a more diverse range of cultural experiences.
For example:

  • FILMCLUBs are broadening the range of films young people can watch from around the world
  • BFI resources introduce young people to the wealth of classic British cinema from the last 100 years
  • National Schools Film Week offered an increased focus on European cinema last year, tapping into a rich and diverse range of films.

Bringing the elements together

The best educational experience for young people brings together filmmaking, watching and critical analysis.

This is probably easier to do in primary schools, where a single film project can weave together different areas of the curriculum with other creative activities such as music and drama.

At all Key Stages, by bringing these elements together, teachers can create a richer film learning experience. Young people can learn the language of film, whilst developing new literacy skills of their own .

Using this guide

Film in Schools: A Practical Guide will help you to

  • Identify where film can contribute to delivering the curriculum
  • Choose the right kit to make, watch and display films in school
  • Make the best use of spaces and the school environment
  • Navigate copyright and other legal issues
  • Source outside partners to work with
  • Access useful film resources.

Other useful information sources exist to support teachers working across the curriculum. These are listed in Chapter 4. We will be continually updating this guide to make it continually relevant. If you have any comments or can suggest additional areas you think we should cover please e-mail Adam Cooper on