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Integrating film into education: a Q&A with Paul Reeve from Into Film

Paul Reeve of Into Film meeting with students
  • Written byUAL Awarding Body
  • Published date 02 March 2023
Paul Reeve of Into Film meeting with students

With the importance of creative media on the rise, we got the chance to speak to Paul Reeve MBE, CEO of Into Film, about what their mission is and why integrating film into young people's education is so important.

Please can you tell us about Into Film and what your mission is?

Into Film is the UK’s leading charity for film in education; we’re fortunate to receive support from both the BFI (who grant us National Lottery funding) and the film industry, among others. Our mission is to unlock the transformative power of moving image storytelling in the lives, learning and future employment aspirations of children and young people across the 5-18 age range.

We pursue that mission by working principally with schools and FE colleges, providing a bespoke streaming service, classroom resources and training/CPD that enable teachers to embed film in students’ learning experience. (When we talk about film, we think of it in its broadest sense – embracing the many ways that stories are now told on screen.) We also encourage and support filmmaking in informal settings and provide industry-relevant information and guidance about screen careers.

Why is it so important to integrate film into young people’s education?

The moving image is today’s predominant form of communication. So we believe it’s vital that young people have the opportunity to develop their understanding of how it tells its stories, how meaning is constructed; they can then fully engage with and process what they see and hear, and develop the skills to tell their own stories. As others have said, this is 21st century literacy; developing that literacy should be a fundamental element of every student’s educational experience.

Stories told in film are also an incredibly rich resource for teaching and learning across the curriculum. Name just about any subject or theme and there’s likely to be a film that can help bring it to life, shed new light on it, stimulate discussion. In our view, it’s a resource that remains relatively untapped and under-recognised in the education sector.

Film is also arguably the most influential art form of the last hundred years. It’s a central part of our cultural heritage, yet it doesn’t seem to have the same status of other art forms (which is reflected in its total absence from England’s National Curriculum). So as well as learning with and through film, young people should have the opportunity to learn about film as part of their cultural entitlement.

In what ways does Into Film support teachers and educators with their use of film in the classroom?

We produce a broad range of resources, created by teachers for teachers, that are linked to specific curriculum subjects and school topics, and focused on clear learning outcomes. They include lesson plans and practical tasks, carefully chosen feature and short films and film excerpts, contextual information, etc. We also offer CPD courses for teachers, catering for differing levels of experience in terms of their use of the moving image. Courses cover a range of themes such as teaching literacy through film and filmmaking in the classroom. The latter is something we’re really passionate about; all young people should have the opportunity and ability to tell their own stories in film, so that they can become makers of their own culture and not only consumers of other people’s.

Our streaming service – Into Film+ – can be accessed free of charge by teachers in the state sector and offers an extensive catalogue of feature films, documentaries, TV content and short films.  Titles range from classics, independent and foreign language to ‘mainstream’; they’re tagged for age-appropriateness, relevance to themes and curriculum subjects and so on, so that teachers can search for and find content that meets their needs. We’re excited about a new function which enables the creation of ‘playlists’ of highlights from different films, which is fantastic for classroom use.

Our new strategy places an increased focus on providing support for teachers of Level 2 and 3 film and moving image-related courses.

How does your programme at Into Film help make film/cinema accessible for all young people?

Engagement with film in their education enables young people to develop an understanding and appreciation of screen culture, and be introduced to stories and genres that they may not otherwise have encountered. We know from our research that this contributes to the development of curious, informed and passionate cinema-goers of the future. Our streaming service means that every classroom can become a cinema and we also support a large network of extracurricular film clubs.

The cinema experience is the ideal way to see a film and screenings are an important element of what we do. The annual Into Film Festival provides an opportunity for school and college groups throughout the UK to attend screenings and events free of charge, thanks to the partnership and support of the industry. Last year well over 350,000 children, young people and their teachers attended; research indicated that around 30,000 were making their first ever cinema visit.

What opportunities can Into Film and your support from the wider industry open up for young people?

We regularly facilitate talks, workshops and Q&As with industry professionals, both in-person and online. We’re currently planning to develop a central source of information and guidance about the huge spectrum of potential industry careers: for teachers and careers leads, and also young people directly via social media channels. We’ll be working with an array of industry partners on this. They’re really supportive because they realise that it holds the key to inspiring and nurturing the future workforce, and addressing in the long-term both the increasing problem of skills shortages in certain roles, and the need to create more inclusive and transparent pathways to screen careers.

If you're a teacher delivering one of our qualifications, find out more about how Into Film might help to enhance your students' learning.