Free film resources streamed directly to the classroom

Written by: Headteacher Update | Published:
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Action: Pupils from Cliftonville Integrated Primary School take part in film-making activities with support from Into Film (image: Into Film)

Using film in the classroom can be incredibly powerful and Into Film’s new streaming service Into Film+ has a range of short and feature length resources tailored specifically for teaching. We find out more, including how Into Film helps schools with licensing and copyright obligations


Film can be used to enhance teaching and learning in a huge range of subjects, ranging from English and science to PSHE and humanities.

Film is also powerful when used to disseminate important messaging around issues such as anti-bullying, mental health, online safety, and Black History Month.

Feature films can provide inspiration and memorable education moments while the strategic use of short clips can provide a catalyst for discussion and debate, sparking imagination and creativity.

For decades, Into Film has been helping schools to access short clips and feature films that bring learning to life. Its well-curated and contextualised catalogue of films of educational and cultural value, accompanied with lesson plans and teacher resources, have been enjoyed by millions of pupils and the charity’s film clubs are a much-loved fixture of extra-curricular activities across the country.

Traditionally, Into Film would loan out DVDs from its extensive database and library. However, its new streaming service Into Film+ will allow schools to access movies, clips, and resources instantly. Users will no longer have to wait for DVD delivery, “now they will be able to access films by streaming directly to schools”, explained Paul Reeve, the CEO of Into Film.


Film-making resources and guides

As well as providing short clips and full-length films, Into Film encourages the use of film-making in schools with resources, guides and CPD for teachers. It shows how schools can use film as part of the teaching and learning process – for example, through project-based work, recording science experiments, drama or other activities carried out in a classroom setting.

“We guide and support them to introduce film-making into the classroom in a really accessible way,” Mr Reeve explained.

Film Fest: The annual Into Film Festival include hundreds of film screenings, special speaker Q&As and masterclasses, educational resources and more (image: Into Film)


Licensing and copyright

Schools need to be legally set up to be able to use the service in terms of both licensing and copyright, and there could be challenges if the correct procedures are not in place.

“The whole issue of copyright and licensing is a complex one but using Into Film means that we solve those challenges for schools,” Mr Reeve said.
Schools require a Public Video Screening Licence (PVSL), but the great majority of schools in the UK already have this. Indeed, every state school in England has one because of bulk-purchasing by the Department for Education (DfE).

If schools have this licence, they can use the films in whatever context they wish – for example, in the classroom, after-school clubs, extra-curricular activities and wet weather play: “Headteachers, classroom staff and governors can be assured they are fully compliant legally,” Mr Reeve added.

However, schools should beware of using home streaming services as they may not be legally permitted although there may be a very limited number of educational programmes that providers, such as Netflix, make that are permissible for school use.

Mr Reeve continued: “Because this is such a complex issue, schools often don’t realise they are non-compliant and can inadvertently flout the law.
“Into Film + offers a safe place to access content because we have done all that work for them in ensuring the appropriate rights and permissions are in place, and that suitability for different age groups has been fully considered.”

The situation regarding copyright and licensing in the other home nations is more mixed and will depend largely on whether local authorities have purchased licences on behalf of schools. In some cases, schools must buy licences themselves, which vary in fee according to the size of the school. For more information on this, see here.

Mr Reeve said that Into Film was currently looking to have conversations with nations’ education departments about securing a uniform approach to acquiring licences that would replicate the arrangements in England: “Our priority is making this process as straightforward as possible for schools, to make life easier for them.”


Cliftonville Integrated Primary School

At Cliftonville Integrated Primary School in Belfast, film is used across all age groups as a driver for teaching and learning. The use of this technology was fuelled in part by the pandemic, with more teachers now feeling proficient in incorporating it into their teaching.

“The great thing about using film clips in lessons is that children cannot give a right or wrong answer because the discussion is subjective,” explained Bill Fletcher, the school’s headteacher.

“We use it for listening and comprehension and teachers have reported improvements in creative writing because of the discussions that take place around characters, colour and the use of camera – or, what we call the 3Cs.

“It would be a complete misapprehension to think we’re using entertainment films, such as Disney, for this purpose. With Into Film+, these are legal films and clips that have been made specifically for the classroom, so they are educationally sound with supporting resources and lesson plans for teachers.”

Getting creative: The use of film resources at Cliftonville Integrated Primary School has led to an improvement in classroom discussions and creative writing (image: Into Film)


Mr Fletcher said the use of film was particularly effective for pupils who have SEN or are timid about speaking in class. It allows children with dyslexia, for example, to access content in non-traditional ways rather than through reading and writing. It is also engaging for those children who are on the autistic spectrum.

He added: “Pupils who are reluctant to speak up in class are more likely to contribute in lessons when their observations are just as valid as those of the other children because there are no right or wrong answers.

“The strides we have seen with creative writing are because film has fired pupils’ imaginations and built their confidence. And the teachers themselves say they feel energised and excited by using film in their teaching, even if they felt apprehensive to begin with.

“Sometimes working with outside organisations can be like jumping through hoops, but we can see the real positives of working with Into Film and the benefits it has brought to our pupils.”

On the new streaming service, Into Film+, he added: “It is a fantastic tool in the arsenal of digital literacy and the fact that it is free is a huge bonus. Teachers have always tried to innovate learning and make lessons more interesting. Accessing the streaming service will make this easier. All we need now is for the broadband in our schools to be as progressive as Into Film!”


More ideas for using film

  • Wherever possible try to complement what you are teaching at the time with film and use it as a resource to stimulate pupils in a new way. Find Into Film’s list of films here: www.intofilm.org/films
  • Watch films to promote your pupils’ literacy and encourage them to write film reviews (available via Into Film Club): www.intofilm.org/review-500
  • Use film to bring the world to your classroom, to break down barriers and fear of other cultures, and to expand pupils’ breadth of knowledge. The annual Into Film Festival is a great event to drive this work: www.intofilm.org/events/festival
  • Films can help to tackle difficult issues such as bullying and are a great catalyst for group discussions: www.intofilm.org/resources/1358
  • Use film to introduce and encourage debate in the classroom around issues of mental wellbeing. Film can help pupils to understand their own emotions and by observing others on screen it will help them develop a deeper empathy. The Mindfulness Through Film resource is a powerful supportive tool: www.intofilm.org/resources/1254
  • Children with special needs can access information and knowledge using film that they might find harder to grasp with traditional resources, such as textbooks: www.intofilm.org/films/filmlist/42
  • Set up an Into Film Club at lunchtime or after school. It enables children who might not usually join in to come along and build their self-esteem, resilience, and social skills: www.intofilm.org/clubs


Further information & resources

Quick and easy: Schools can now access films by streaming directly via the Into Film+ service (image: Into Film)


Headteacher Update Knowledge Bank

This article has been published by Headteacher Update with sponsorship from Into Film. It has been written and produced to a brief agreed in advance with Into Film.


This material is protected by MA Education Limited copyright.
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