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UCL film education journal - FINAL (JUST

Securing a place for film within a Scottish secondary school 


Ready Player One (Warner Bros. Pictures All Rights Reserved)

Securing a place for film within the ongoing life of a Scottish state secondary school



Michael Daly and Jacqueline Thomson are English teachers at John Paul Academy, an inner-city secondary school in Glasgow, Scotland. Working together as probationary teachers, they decided to start an after-school film club. From there, film has gradually become a central part of their teaching strategy, and has moved beyond their own English and Media classrooms to become embedded within John Paul Academy’s broader curriculum.


Film education does not yet form any significant part of Scottish teacher training programmes and, as such, incorporating film into curricular teaching can be a challenge. This article covers a broad array of ways in which teachers can use film as a tool for learning. It details the benefits of setting up a successful film club as an extra-curricular activity and explains how using film in the English classroom can motivate students, teach them to critically analyse texts, and develop their oral and written skills. This article is a rich source of ideas for any teacher looking to learn and take inspiration from their peers. 

Key points to explore


The article covers a range of topics including: 

  • A discussion of the role film plays in the national Scottish Curriculum for Excellence and how it ‘can provide a powerful means through which to begin addressing the attainment gap and engaging with hard-to-reach students in Scottish schools.’ (pp. 137, 149-150) 

  • An account of setting up and running a regular after-school film club with the support of film education charity Into Film, and the different reactions and discussions certain films provoked among students (pp.139-141) 

  • The role of film reviews and how they provide opportunities for students to express opinions and develop their written literacy (pp.141-144) 

  • A detailed case study of how the films Joker and Skyfall were successfully used as optional ‘texts’ as preparation for an SQA English exam (pp.144-149) 

Watch Michael Daly discuss the work that he and colleague Jaqueline Thomson have done to embed film in the classroom. 

Ideas for the classroom:


Michael has very kindly shared one of his lesson plans that they created to use the film Ready Player One as a 'pathway to literature'. Michael also talks about his lesson plan, and how the film allowed them to think about their own lives. You can download the lesson plans here.


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