Screening Literacy, the 2011 European Commission on film education, defined film literacy as:

“The level of understanding of a film, the ability to be conscious and curious in the choice of films; the competence to critically watch a film and to analyse its content, cinematography and technical aspects; and the ability to manipulate its language and technical resources in creating moving image production”.

The Bradford Film Literacy Programme took place in primary schools in 2010-2011 and 2012-2015. It was designed to act as a legacy for the Bradford UNSECO City of Film status to explore whether learning about and through short film in literacy could increase pupils’ literacy attainment levels. On average each year target pupils engaged in the programme have made 4 average points progress for writing and reading. This is above the expected rate of progress as children making good progress move around 3 APS each year at KS2.


Bradford became the world’s first UNESCO City of Film in 2009. This permanent title bestowed international recognition on Bradford as a world centre for film because of the city’s rich film heritage, its inspirational movie locations and its many celebrations of the moving image through the city’s annual film festivals. The designation is used holistically across the City to assist regeneration, focussing on four areas: Make film, Enjoy film, Learn about and through film and Visit because of film.

The Bradford Film Literacy programme in primary schools formed a significant part of the larger Learn agenda that aims to use film across the whole learning spectrum from early years and primary education, through to secondary, further and higher education and into lifelong learning.

In 2010 it was agreed that embedding the teaching of film literacy into Bradford primary schools would be a fitting legacy for the City of Film status. Bradford Children’s Services funded this pilot year, with support from the British Film Institute who trained consultants to work alongside teachers to see if the use and study of short films in literacy lessons could improve boys’ writing skills. The results were positive.

In 2012 the project was repeated over 3 years (funded by Bradford Children’s Services and the Curriculum Innovation Service). A PhD post was funded jointly by Bradford UNESCO City of Film and the University of Bradford to monitor the impact of the work on pupils’ literacy attainment levels. The aim was to cascade the model out to as many primary schools as possible via school-to-school support. In the second year CapeUK (the Arts Council England ‘Bridge’ organisation for Yorkshire and the Humber) funded the inclusion of professional filmmakers and the incorporation of Arts Award for pupils involved in the project in those schools that were interested as well as the production of this website and a film offering an overview of the programme as a whole. In the third year Bradford Children’s Services funded the project for a number of target primary schools in Bradford and other interested primary schools could choose to pay to be part of it if they so wished.

Future of Film Literacy

As City of Film continues to develop, the aim is to take the Film Literacy project into secondary schools and make the necessary linkages between primary, secondary and eventually link to some of the fantastic film and animation courses available at the University of Bradford and Bradford College to ensure progression routes are available for pupils interested in film across the city. For more information on this please contact David Wilson at Bradford UNESCO City of Film: david.wilson@bradford.gov.uk