Lights, camera, action!

Written by: HTU | Published:

Longhill Primary School has introduced television production to help teach speaking and listening skills. Mike Russell explains

Before I arrived at Longhill, I had previously worked with the BBC as part of the team behind the Learning Zone and in my role as media co-ordinator at the school, I now support an editorial team as they work to produce a monthly television programme.

Having built a soundproofed studio within the classroom with its own green-screened wall and red sofas, the next important process was securing the equipment. The Hull City Learning Centre was able to loan the school three video cameras which record onto mini-DVDs, a microphone and wireless microphone system, and five dedicated laptops complete with a design suite. With the array of equipment installed, all children in year 6 were taught how to use the cameras.

Year 6 set about establishing their own Longhill Primary TV team which would include editors, directors, camera operators and presenters. An editorial committee of four children was elected by their peers to choose the topics for the programmes, as well as to delegate roles to the rest of the production team. The children that wanted to undertake the role of presenting had to undergo an audition process in front of the editorial committee who would vote as to who would win the role.

The topics addressed by the monthly TV programmes are mainly, but not exclusively, concerning school activities. Recently the school was visited by a published author and poet and the production team produced a programme featuring an interview with the author about their work and their views on literacy.

Another focus for the programmes has been concerning “new beginnings”. The children created a series interviewing teachers who had recently been employed by the school and a programme dedicated to the new nursery that was being built alongside Longhill Primary.

In addition to creating the programmes, the pupils are also being tasked with creating their own adverts. To publicise their school book club and to hopefully recruit new members, four boys set about producing an advert for the club. This involved thinking about the key messages to get across to the audience and deciding on the most encouraging way to present it.

Once complete, the Longhill Primary TV programmes are played in assembly and are also made available on the school’s website; enabling parents to gain an insight into school activities. The school is also currently looking at the option of the having the programmes played in the reception area.

It goes without saying that the children have gained useful skills as well as a great deal of enjoyment from the Longhill Primary TV project. For the school as a whole, it has become part of intervention strategies. Reluctant writers become inspired to write when tasked with writing a script for an advert that has to be filmed. A boy that was regularly found to be absent now has an excellence attendance record due to his involvement in Longhill Primary TV.

For frustrated learners, getting involved in the television production can be the turning point they need. One child whose behaviour was extremely difficult was given the opportunity to become involved in the project and has gone on to become the team’s main editor. He has found something that he enjoys doing and has also been given important responsibilities that he takes seriously. Not only does he enjoy his work on Longhill TV, but we have also seen his behaviour and results improve immensely across the entire curriculum.

The children also have the possibility to become trainers and mentors to other children, both within Longhill Primary and neighbouring schools. The production team was “hired” to help pupils at a local school film their stage production. The main camera operators taught the other children how to operate the equipment and were on standby for any technical hitches. By being able to mentor other children in such a way, the pupils of Longhill felt empowered by their new skills.

While the majority of children involved in Longhill Primary TV are in year 6, the school has also opened up the opportunities to a number of pupils from years 3, 4 and 5. We have seen some young and very timid students really come out of their shells after becoming involved. For some children who may appear very quiet, once they get in front of a camera they seem to come alive. It is wonderful to watch.

What really makes this project so successful is the involvement from a variety of teachers within the school. We are constantly coming up with new ways to incorporate the medium into different classes. Before Christmas the older children filmed a step-by-step “how-to” guide for the year 1 pupils to make Christmas cards, while other pupils have been filming cookery shows on baking buns. Whenever school trips take place, a pupil in entrusted with a video camera and the trip is filmed so that is can be shared with other classes.

There are so many skills that the pupils learn from taking part in the project, such as speaking and listening, writing, decision-making, teamwork, and working on their own. In addition, there are also some important technical skills that can potentially help them in future careers, such as design, music, story-boarding, voice-over, editing, and mathematical processes which allow the students to calculate timings and duration of the films.

Since launching Longhill Primary TV the pupils’ concentration and attitude to work is blossoming. Once-timid pupils have become vivacious learners, inspired and eager to learn in all areas of school, while persistent absentees have improved their attendance dramatically.

CAPTION: Longhill pupil Josh is interviewed by Ellie with Maison on camera as they prepare another edition of their regular programme

• Mike Russell is media co-ordinator at Longhill Primary School in Hull, which uses Serif’s MoviePlus to edit and produce its programmes.

• For more primary education best practice and advisory articles from Headteacher Update, click here.

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