Three of my case studies came out of a serendipitous meeting with Mark Reid, the Head of Education at the British Film Institute, in October 2010. I was looking for case study material and he was keen to have current school partnership projects with strong multimodal components tracked, documented and in one case, evaluated.
London Nautical School (LNS) is a state secondary school with over 650 boys located in central London on the south bank of the Thames, near Waterloo. In terms of infrastructure, most of the original early 20th century buildings are still in use, some listed as Grade 2, and the school has a well-thumbed, ‘old-school’ air about it characterized by vertiginous stair wells and peeling paint. The school is a Specialist Sports College and all boys pursue Nautical Studies at Key Stage 3. In 2010 42% of students gained 5 or more GCSE’s including English and Maths. Once a week from November 2010 to May 2011 a small group of mainly higher achieving Year 9 boys attended a film production after school project based at Lambeth City Learning Centre in Clapham. Some had attended the same course the previous year.
Another group of similar aged boys from Lambeth Academy (LA) in Clapham attended the same project. Some had film experience from the previous year but neither group had met each other. Lambeth Academy is a new co-educational secondary school with £25 million worth of investment. In 2011 36% (ibid) of students gained 5 or more GCSE’s including English and Maths. Similar to LNS in terms of ethnic diversity, the difference with these particular boys was that they had all attended the Special Educational Needs department of LA at various stages, with issues related to autism and/or behavioural problems.
The last two case studies involve state primary schools: Telferscot Primary School (TPS) – a mixed, multi-ethnic state school in south London with a mixture of middle-class and low-income families and St Elizabeth Primary School (SEPS) – a mixed, diverse, catholic state school in Bethnal Green in a socially deprived area of Tower Hamlets, East London, wherein a significant proportion are white, low-income families. The TPS project was a collaborative, multimodal learning experience with Year 4 children, based at the BFI & Southbank Centre, spread over half a term for two days a week; my role here was to observe and report back to the BFI on learning outcomes. As St Elizabeth’s is my part-time place of work, the SEPS case study was my own multimodal poetry/film project with Year 6 children identified as having low academic ability, for one afternoon a week spread over several weeks.