Northern Ireland news

Three NI schools nominated for film awards

Pupils from Beechlawn Special School Sixth Form who have been nominated for ‘Film Club of the Year’ at this year’s Into Film Awards

A FILM made by Belfast school pupils to celebrate 40 years of integrated education in Northern Ireland has been shortlisted for an award.

Created by primary six pupils at Cranmore IPS, the mini-documentary has been nominated in the 11 and under category for the Into Film Awards.

The event, organised by education charity Into Film, celebrates the filmmaking talents of young people across the UK and the work of educators who inspire them.

Scripted and performed by the Cranmore pupils, who also designed the backdrops and performed part of the soundtrack, the film examines the changes in Northern Ireland over the last four decades and looks at what makes a good integrated school.

Teacher Andrew Duggan said: "We are delighted to be nominated for such a prestigious award.

"Film and filmmaking has become an important part of literacy at Cranmore and is enjoyed by all.

"It has proven to be a great way to engage all children."

It is one of three Northern Ireland nominations for this year's awards, which also includes Michele McAlonan from Cliftonville IPS in north Belfast. She has been shortlisted in the 'Teacher of the Year' category for her use of film to inspire children and improve literacy.

Ms McAlonan has spearheaded school development projects around film and filmmaking, established the school's film club and is an ambassador for media literacy as a tool for curriculum development.

"Using film in the classroom as an innovative teaching and learning tool has changed how myself and more recently my colleagues, plan and deliver lessons for pupils from P1 to P7," she said.

"The pupils are excited and motivated by the use of film and film related activities.

"Pupil comments, observations and discussions that take place during film led sessions make it evident that as a school we have made the right decision in prioritising the use of film as an invaluable aid to teaching and learning."

Beechlawn Special School has also been nominated in the Into Film Club of the Year category.

The school runs the film club for pupils with special educational needs (SEN), some of whom find it difficult to communicate effectively.

It enables pupils to choose films, have open discussions about the characters and write reviews and has helped to improve their engagement and develop friendships.

During periods of lockdown caused by Covid-19, the club was run virtually which helped ease the pupils' feeling of isolation.

Club leader Catherine McBride said: "This club is so important to our pupils and school as it provides a safe place, where our young people can relax, chat and enjoy film."

All three nominees will take part in a star-studded ceremony in London next month where film stars will present awards to the winners.

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