Top Ten Films of 2012

Below are the films that have remained in my mind throughout 2012. I should add that I have yet to see The Master, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Tabu, and Sightseers, which after speaking to people about them, one or two might well enter my top 10 by the end of the year, but for now they are:


Berberian Sound Studio

Once Upon A Time in Anatolia

The Hunt

Holy Motors

Searching for Sugar Man

Martha Marcy May Marlene

The Turin Horse


This Is Not A Film



I’d also like to include a film that has yet to have a full theatrical release: Entity. This film is currently doing the festival circuit and the sound design by ZnO is second to none. To quote from a recent review of the film:

“the sound design is the real heart of the film.  It is, without a doubt, one of the best uses of sound in an independent feature that I have experienced.  The cinema rumbled and creaked along with the film asylum and frequently built to borderline painful ear-piercing screeches that put the audience in the same space as the on-screen characters.”

Archive of 3rd #mediaedchat

Was a quiet one this week, which is representative of the time of year where school performances and other activities are happening. But it was great to see folk get involved and also ideas being generated. I think the common consensus is that it would be great to see some Media Studies TeachMeet style events taking place around the country in conjunction with the local MEA groups being established. Please have a look at the MEA site to see if there’s a group near you, and if there isn’t one, why not contact the MEA to see if they can help you set up one?!

#mediaedchat 3

Many thanks to @hgaldinoshea who has come up with tonight’s topic for #mediaedchat:

“In what ways can the Media Education Association and local networks of educationalists work together to promote Media Studies and support teachers?”

Am sure that this will provoke an array of ideas and responses for what is a vital question to push forward media education in all its forms.

See you later at 8pm!

Skills? What skills? #mediaedcat 2

During last week’s #mediaedchat Neil Martin (@nizlamb) mentioned that Media Education offers students numerous skills. I thought that this was a pertinent comment, especially considering the public’s perception (positive and negative) of the relevancy of media being taught to students. For a handout for prospective A Level students, some old students of mine came up with the following skills that they believed Media Education offered:


Therefore I would like to offer the topic of “what skills does Media Education offer and how can we celebrate these skills to change perception?

Last week’s debut of #mediaedchat was a huge success and I am sure that this week’s will be of equal measure.

If you have any topic that you would like to discuss for future chats, please feel free to offer.

Very little room for optimism?

During David Buckingham‘s engaging keynote speech at the MEA/BFI Conference last Saturday, he addressed the possible future that Media and Film Education faces in the UK. Covering issues such as the privatisation/marketisation of education, the way(s) in which Media Education is perceived within the UK, and how the current government seems intent on harking back to a model that fits the 19th century rather than one designed for the 21st century; Buckingham painted a relatively bleak picture, however he also argued that as educationalists we should be fighting our corner.

Towards the beginning of his keynote you could hear the audience shuffle in their seats with unease when he claimed that there was “very little room for optimism” for media education. Therefore the first topic of #mediaedchat will be to discuss whether there is “very little room for optimism“? And also what can we do to defend/promote/change the subject in these ‘hard times’? Looking forward to an invigorating discussion tomorrow!


With the excitement of the second MEA/BFI: Media and Film Education Futures conference taking place tomorrow I’ve proposed on Twitter that it could be a good starting point to start a weekly #mediaedchat on Twitter. There are numerous weekly education chats taking place on Twitter these days, but there seems to be a gap where practitioners and enthusiasts of media education can get together to discuss relevant topics. Hopefully the idea will catch on and grow, which might have the potential to develop into local meetings of media teachers (as being advocated by the local MEA groups that are currently being set up around the country).

I thought that this post could be a starting point of highlighting the Twitter accounts of media teachers around the UK and internationally (please feel free to comment with other accounts that can be updated to the list).

The first #mediaedchat will take place on Tuesday 27 November at 8pm.

Here’s hoping that others feel that this is a good idea!

Twitter List
























































Share, share, share!

I am delighted to be able to say that the programme for this year’s OCR A Level Media Studies Conference has been announced. Following the article that I wrote for the Media Education Association journal (POV), myself and Steve Murray were asked by Pete Fraser if we would like to run an unconference style session within the conference. Of course, it only took us a few seconds to accept! The aim of the session is for people to come along and share good practice following the same format that TeachMeets use (7 min and 2 min presentations). A wiki will be set up very soon where attendees can sign up to notify Steve and myself about what they would like to share. Not only will you get an opportunity to spread the word of what amazing things take place in your classroom, but you will also be able to attend other exciting sessions. I have to say that the programme looks excellent, especially with Corin Hardy leading a session.

For more info please visit

Hope to see you there and no doubt in the pub afterwards where the dialogue will continue!

A Possible Alternative?

It’s been a LONG while since I have blogged anything and part of me feels ashamed – I aim to make amends to this! In the last few months I have been appointed as Subject Leader for Media Studies at a school in the south of England, therefore have been very busy getting to grips with a new curriculum, a new school, a new location etc. In October 2010 I attended the Media Literacy Conference that was held in London and have subsequently been asked to write an article for the Media Education Association journal POV. During the conference I had quite a few concerns which are expressed in the article below:



Like so many other educationalists, the concept of a conference centred on the theme of Media Literacy was enticing to say the least. Upon its initial announcement where the workshops appeared to be focused on what was happening in classrooms, where good practice would be shared amongst those in attendance, and where there would be a sense of conviviality, attendance at the Media Literacy Conference was a must. However, as the months passed before the conference it was clear that there was a burgeoning emphasis on Research Panels, where PhD students and other academics would share (or read out?) their current projects with the cohort. During the conference, I was one of several “tweeters” who publically voiced their concerns about the shift in emphasis away from sharing innovative and practical classroom knowledge (something that I believe has been what the MEA is about) towards a celebration of academic research. Although I firmly believe in the worth and merit of this field of research and also how it often helps to inform classroom practice, I felt that the conference left me a little short changed. Therefore I propose two alternatives that may be considered to work alongside or within MLC2011.

Over the years, I have found that the most meaningful dialogue at a conference occurs during the coffee breaks, or if it is a residential, in the bar during the evening. It is within these spaces that connections are made, ideas are exchanged, and often changes are made. Over the past few years there has been an increase in the number of TeachMeets occurring throughout the UK and also internationally. These events are not modelled on conventional conference structures but are based around the more informal model of an unconference. They often take place during the evening, where teachers, educationalists, and other interested parties are not taken away from their day jobs; therefore they are open for all to attend. The premise for a TeachMeet style event is in the words of Ewan Macintosh “about being engaged and inspired by our immediate colleagues and get some ideas from the grassroots” and where the guidelines are:

•    7 minute presentations
•    2 minute nano-presentations
•    Anyone can speak; there are no keynotes or spotlight talks
•    Speakers are chosen at random; there is no pecking order
•    Presentations cannot use PowerPoint; find another way
•    Presentations must talk about teaching and learning going on now, in a classroom.
•    No sales pitches
•    Everyone is a participant, not a bystander. The venue should be conducive to getting up and having a chat in the corner at any time, not just in the breaks. The first TeachMeet was held in a pub and then a restaurant. Others have been held in ballrooms.
•    The provision of drinks helps break down the notion that people are ‘in conference’ or ‘at work’.
•    If you need a sponsor to get a venue, set up PA, bring in drinks and nibbles, then make sure you’re not held to one sponsor.
•    Sponsors are privileged to sponsor TeachMeet – not the other way around. ‘No sales pitches’ goes for them, too.
•    TeachMeet is not about freebees. It’s about teachers talking about teaching and learning.

Personally, the benefits of a TeachMeet style of unconference is that it is about building a community where ideas are shared and where everyone is valued equally, and they have been highly successful because of this. Having a keynote speaker at a conference has its benefits, but ultimately the dialogue is finished once that speaker has closed their presentation.

In June 2009 I co-organised an unconference style event on the Isle of Islay centred around the theme of what education might look like in the year 2020, focusing on these areas: assessment, future spaces,  relevance of skills, and learning for all. There was to be no keynote speaker, no presentations by individual attendees, instead it was an open, very informal, and possibly anarchic(!) event where the emphasis was on creating a dialogue, sharing ideas, and exchanging viewpoints. Despite being held on a Scottish island where the ferry journey time to the mainland was 2.5 hours, over 50 people attended coming from all corners of the UK. I might add that we held it in Bowmore Distillery, therefore there was the added incentive of a few free drams! As the vast majority of people came from afar, local hotels were open to negotiation to deals for the attendees and the unconference continued into the early hours of the morning. Everyone left with a sense that something was achieved and that a journey had been begun. Moreover, there was no cost for the event for the attendees (apart from the obvious travel and accommodation costs) and sponsorship for the cost of the venue was obtained from one source. Therefore for an event to take place where teachers can meet to converse and exchange does not need to cost an awful lot of money – there are always alternatives.

These are just two examples of what could possibly happen at the forthcoming Media Literacy Conference and hopefully will spark some debate on the MEA forum. Perhaps a TeachMeet style event could be held in a local brewery or the backroom of a pub? It is important that teachers of Media (in all its forms) are provided with an opportunity to meet and to share ideas, especially when one thinks of the coalition Government’s proposals regarding the future of education where Media is not even mentioned. Grand buildings, free goodie bags of promotional materials, and sparkling silverware are not necessary when it comes to discussing ideas and proposals of change!