Northern Ireland

Bafta-nominated Troubles documentary could be screened in classrooms following Education Authority pilot

Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland may be used as teaching resource

Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland will be broadcast on the BBC on May 22. Picture by Peter Marlow/Magnum Photos)
A still from Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland.

Award-winning Troubles documentary series Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland could be screened in schools to teach pupils about the conflict.

The series, which was broadcast on BBC NI last year, was shown to 180 teenage pupils from 10 schools at Belfast’s Queen’s Film Theatre on Tuesday.

The screening was part of a pilot scheme for the Bafta-nominated series, directed by James Bluemel, to be used as a teaching resource in schools.

The Education Authority pilot saw pupils offer their thoughts on the hard-hitting series following the screening.

The pilot aims to help create a professional development module which will aid schools in the delivery of sensitive topics in classrooms.

Following the screening, pupils took part in a panel discussion on the series with its director, hosted by Declan Lawn, the creator of BBC PSNI drama Blue Lights.

Speaking of how his series could be used in classrooms, London-born director James Bluemel said: Northern Ireland was always on the news when I was at school, and I think I understood the broad politics behind the events but I had no idea how anyone in Northern Ireland actually felt about living through the Troubles.

“That’s because, while history is made up of big stories, it is understood much better when we can hear the small, personal details. I think it is  very special that the patchwork of human stories which make up Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland may now be used as a tool for young people to better understand and connect with their own past.”

He added: “Thanks to the Education Authority for believing in the power of documentaries in teaching, and thanks to every one of our contributors for sharing their experiences, which have unlocked a new trove of human testimony through which to better understand the Troubles.”