Dr Alex Southern, who is a Research Associate with the Wales Centre for Equity in Education (WCEE), has published a book based on her PhD research entitled The Ministry of Education Film Experiment: From Post-War Visual Education to 21st Century Literacy which has been recommended by the Times Higher Education supplement.
The book focuses on a post-war film production experiment, sponsored by the Ministry of Education that aimed to provide films for secondary school pupils in the wake of the 1944 Education Act. The Act brought about the reorganisation of schools into the tripartite system where pupils were divided into Grammar, Secondary Modern and Technical Schools, according to the results of the Eleven Plus examination. Dr Southern draws out the parallels between this ‘visual education’ experiment and more recent BFI and UK Film Council-driven education strategies.
The publication of the book has come at a great time, as it coincides with Creative Learning through the arts (http://creativelearning.arts.wales/), the Arts Council of Wales initiative, supported by Welsh Government, which is currently taking place in schools across Wales. The research also chimes with the recent launch of the British Film Institute’s strategy, BFI2022 (http://www.bfi.org.uk/2022/[AS1] ),
Dr Southern said: “I’m absolutely delighted to see my book recommended in the Times Higher. This was the first government intervention into film education, and my study combines archival research at The National Archives, Kew, and at the British Film Institute National Archive, with film textual analysis, placing the experiment within the context of film and education histories. My research places the 16 original films, held at the BFI National Archive within wider contexts of film and education histories as well as contemporary debates surrounding visual literacy. My discussion draws out the parallels between this ‘visual education’ experiment and more recent BFI and UK Film Council-driven ‘21st century literacy’ strategies and activity.”
Dr Paul Gerhardt, Director of Education at the British Film Institute, said of the book: “Alex Southern reminds us there are lessons to be learnt from the relatively short history of film. Film and media still struggle for a permanent role in education, but this case study suggests we may have been focusing too much on the politicians and not enough on the practitioners.”
The Wales Centre for Equity in Education is a joint initiative between UWTSD and the University of Wales that aims to make a significant impact on reducing educational inequities in Wales by working at national, regional and local levels to bring about change through evidence based improvements to policy and practice. It has been established to be a leading national policy and applied research centre, focusing on all forms of disadvantage associated with low educational achievement in Wales and it is underpinned by a commitment to promote social justice and inclusion in a way that supports the sustainable development of an equitable, fit-for-purpose education system for future generations in Wales and beyond.