Monthly Archives: November 2010

National Schools Film and Animation Awards 2010

Lady Floella Benjamin, chair of judges  for National Schools Film and Animation Awards 2010
A firm but fair chair of judges

Children’s TV presenter Lady Floella Benjamin is a superstar. She is also a great chair of judges as I discovered yesterday at the Bli National Schools Film and Animation Awards 2010 in Sheffield where a group of educators and journalists spent the day looking at over 40 shortlisted entries covering all the key stages.

We saw reworkings of familiar stories such as the Three Little Pigs and Tell Tale Heart, several pieces on internet safety and lots of entries focusing on environmental issues. There were some strong issues-based pieces covering teenage pregnancy, under age drinking and life in the run down areas found in so many cities in Britain. These would not have looked out of place on Channel 4 and were highly polished productions which avoided the sanctimonious preaching tone often associated with teenage documentaries. Other pieces were very school based and provided a little affectionate mockery of teachers, their habits and mannerisms.

As judges, we learned a lot about film making and animation as we got a crash course in what works and what doesn’t. You could see where entries were under-rehearsed or needed editing. It was obvious where technology dominated and the focus or storyline had become obscured. We talked about everything from the colour of titles to the use of camera angles and sound effects.

Floella is passionate about encouraging children to be creative but she is also a stern critic,” ‘Good enough’ is just not good enough. They should be aiming for the best,” she said of one entry. But she was also quick to point out where pupils had conveyed a story or communicated to their audience particularly effectively.

The results of the awards will be announced early in 2011 but you can be certain that whatever form the ceremonies and celebrations take, Floella Benjamin will be there, sharing her passion for creativity and encouraging children to try that little bit harder to be the very best that they can be.


Trip to the Lords

Sal goes to town
All dressed up with somewhere to go

I went to the BESA reception at the House of Lords earlier this week. BESA is the British Educational Suppliers Association and serves as a pressure group as well as a trade association. The cream of the educational software industry was there with representatives from big companies such as Crick Software and smaller more specialist companies such as Immersive Technology which has produced the award winning Kartouche brand and Sunflower, experts in Science.

Andrea Carr new chair of BESA
Rising Stars and now BESA for Andrea Carr

 Baroness Hooper, president of BESA, talked about the challenges ahead and Dominic Savage, Director General, pointed out that this was the last time colleagues from Becta would be attending as the organisation is due to close. However, he sounded a more optimistic note with the news of BETT Middle East, due to take place later this month in Abu Dhabi, and an increasingly open door to Indian markets for British educational software.

There was an enthusiastic response to the news that Andrea Carr, founder and Managing Director of educational publishing company Rising Stars, is to be the new chair of BESA.

Libraries v Computers

Primary teachers see ICT as more of a priority for investment than school libraries. In research carried out by the British Educational Suppliers Association’s (BESA) only two per cent of teachers indicated that libraries are more important than investing in interactive whiteboards (IWBs) and other classroom ICT. Nearly a third of teachers felt that classroom ICT was more important while the rest put ICT and libraries on an equal footing.

Director of BESA
EBooks challenge libraries

Ray Barker, director, BESA said, “Where banks of computers have been provided in the space that may have previously held storage for books, the growing use of eBooks and of the internet for research, is putting pressure on schools to justify expenditure on traditional books.”

The coalition government is beating the drum for a Back to Basics approach and on coming to power immediately announced the closure of Becta, the agency for ICT in schools. Primary teachers, it seems, do not share their view.

4 Nations, 1 Challenge

Have you got at least 20 good mathematicians in your school? if so, you might like to have a go at The Four Nations Maths Challenge. This is the UK’s biggest ever online maths event and runs from 8th -12th November as a prelude to the international World Maths Day.

There are two parts to the contest: Live Mathletics, a competitive 60 second mental arithmetic challenge and Curriculum Mathletics which has questions allied to concepts and topics from the UK curriculum.

The contest is run via 3P Learning’s award winning learning platform Mathletics and is open to pupils of all ages and stages of maths learning. With trophies, medals and certificates this is turning into a sporting tournament and who knows, come 2012 we might have a Maths Olympics too!

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