Before working in film production I used to be a teacher and it’s that insider knowledge that me and my team always bring to any film commissioned for School Reel. My happiest memories of being a teacher, and those which essentially brought about the inception of School Reel, are definitely when the class and I made a film together and I could be relied upon to find almost any reason to do this: assemblies, special events, drama feedback, getting off timetable (obviously the most important reason) I just always wanted to put a camera in front of the pupils because they got so much from the experience and they’re just so good at it!
One of the most rewarding projects we worked on together was, without doubt, the news programmes. These began when I was approached by my head of department to put something together for the BBC’s Schools Report initiative and because of my media background at the BBC – in news production specifically – I seemed like the obvious choice. Plus I needed an extra thing to do as all the marking and planning still gave me over 48 seconds on a Wednesday unaccounted for…
What’s so great about news programmes is that so many kids can be involved – either in the planning of the stories, the research, dressing the set, being in front or behind the camera and that’s before you hit the edit room. You can also involve the rest of the school too by having various members of staff interviewed (preparing them for when School Reel comes in!) and making some of the content about showing off some of the brilliant things going on at your school. Working on a project like this with the kids really helps build relationships and lets them see another side of you as a teacher, instead of the adult who stands at the front of the class with their beady eye on how fat your tie knot has become. I see you – it looks like an anvil.
We live in a media-savvy time. Children young and old are experts at the media and use it continuously on a day-to-day basis so why not let them show you what they can do with a camera and some direction? We have a free news production resource on this very website (under Download our FREE guide) with step-by-step instructions on how to make something really special with your class and we’d love to see what you do with it. Send us your news programmes and we’d love to feature the best ones on our website, or just get in touch if you want any more advice that isn’t answered in the guide – which would be virtually impossible as many people are calling it: ‘The most comprehensive guide to making news programmes in the classroom this world, or any other, has seen.’ Not my words, the words of Top Gear Magazine. (Shout out to any Alan Partridge fans out there)