This year’s National Schools Film Week drew more than half a million pupils and has drawn praise from Culture Minister Ed Vaizey.

The UK event, run by film industry-funded organisation Film Education, saw attendance rise 14% on last year and notched up 538,468 attendances from children of primary and secondary school age.

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, said:  “National Schools Film Week is an excellent way of helping young people engage with great cinema and I am very pleased it has had such a successful year.”

A programme of films screenings and talks was held across 530 cinemas – 71% of all UK cinemas –and hosted pupils from 4,165 schools from Oct 15-26.

A total of 180 films were screened and included Mike Newell’s Great Expectations, Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In and Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist.

First visit

Figures from Film Education reveal that it was the first visit to the cinema for 15% of the schoolchildren.

Now in its 17th year, the event aims to give pupils the experience of seeing a film in the cinema accompanied by talks from film-makers, cinema managers, education officers and academics.

These included events with writer Michael Morpugo (Private Peaceful, War Horse) and film-makers Mike Newell and Allison Abbate (Frankenweenie).

The film week featured 177 supporting events for both schoolchildren and teachers, offering access to an online library of resources linked directly to the curriculum.

New partnerships

In addition, new partnerships struck by Film Education with Film Africa and the British Federation of Film Societies (BFFS) offered screenings of Cilia Sawagodo’s animated Tree of Spirits. BFFS brought community cinemas and film societies into the programme to increase the opportunities for children to take part.

James Lennox, managing director of Film Education, said: “Film plays a central role in formal and informal education for young people today helping them to learn more about the world we live in and also has direct links to curriculum subjects. 

“The growth of National Schools Film Week, which is an important part of the work that Film Education undertakes year round with schools, underlines how valuable teachers feel it is for children to learn about and from film, and for the film industry offering the opportunity to young audiences to experience a wider range of film is vital.”

Raising awareness

Nick Walker, festival director of National Schools Film Week, added that the event “raises awareness among teaching professionals of using film in the curriculum”.

“In setting up the programme we talk to teachers in order to screen films, host discussions and provide online resources that fit with their curriculum needs, and as a result we show a wide range of films – British, American studio and independent, European and World Cinema.”