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Audley Range School, Blackburn (1904)

This archive footage offers a fascinating glimpse of a bygone age that could inspire many different classroom activities, from historical projects to inspiring the creation of pupils’ own ‘keep-fit’ video. It shows young schoolchildren exercising in the playground, and doesn’t look so different from what you might see today. Yet before the 1902 Education Act was introduced, most of these children would have been working in factories rather than attending school. Indeed this film was one of several commissioned to illustrate the change in the law and its results.

Classroom Activities

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Questions

  • What kind of school is this?

  • What age do you think the children in this film are?

  • What does the film tell us about these children and the kind of education they have?

  • How does the soundtrack make you feel about the film? Does it make it more familiar?

  • Why do you think this film was made?

  • Who do you think might watch the film?

  • Why do you think the children are exercising in the school yard?

Watching

  • What kind of school is this?

  • What age do you think the children in this film are?

  • What does the film tell us about these children and the kind of education they have?

  • How does the soundtrack make you feel about the film? Does it make it more familiar?

  • Why do you think this film was made?

  • Who do you think might watch the film?

  • Why do you think the children are exercising in the school yard?

Analysing

  • Discuss the time setting of the film. What decade is the film set in? How do you know?

  • Discuss what this film might show if it were made today at your school

  • Ask the class to look at the portrayals of men, women and children in the film. Were there stereotypical gender roles and if so, why?

  • Who were Mitchell & Kenyon? Set your class a project to research who they were and what they did. Write a short article about them and their filmmaking practices.

  • Get the class to research definitions of ‘documentary’ film. Create a class list of definitions to compare ideas.

  • Does this film fit the definition of ‘documentary’?

  • Show the film alongside some of the other Mitchell & Kenyon films. What collective picture of the early 1900s do the films present?

  • Discuss: Why were these films made? Were the film-makers trying to tell a story? Were they taking moving photographs to capture a moment of time? How do these films help us to answer these questions?

  • Discuss how film can be a primary source of evidence for 20th century history. Look carefully at the footage. What does it tell us about life in these times?

Creative

  • Playscript: write a series of stage directions to create a silent play for performance (where no-one is allowed to speak).

  • Write a dialogue script for the film, choosing some of the children to speak. Get the class to take on roles and perform their script. Record it and add to a downloaded version of the film in iMovie or Windows MovieMaker to create a sound version of the film.

  • Write a diary entry for a child pupil recounting his or her day at the school in the 1900s.

  • PE: film some of your own physical exercises or games.

  • Script or storyboard some new sequences for the film showing some of the other activities children might do at the school.

  • Examine the fashion of school uniforms in the early 1900s. Using images from the internet, create a 1904 school magazine.

  • Pick one of the children in the film, and imagine you are that person. Write a paragraph about the day the film crew arrived to film you and your friends.

  • Use the internet to find out more about early archive films.

  • Download all the Mitchell & Kenyon films and then, using Movie Maker or iMovie, edit the films using transitions and sound to create a narrative.

  • Improvise a running commentary as a voice-over or a dialogue to add to the soundtrack.

  • Create a new music soundtrack for the film.

  • Choose footage from all the Mitchell & Kenyon films and edit them to advertise a modern product.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-002-000-029-C
Resource Rights Holder BFI
Project Ref STST2-10
Year of Production 1904
Genre Historical Archive Footage
Curriculum Areas subjects
Who Mitchell & Kenyon (Filmmakers)
Country of Origin UK
Medium / Content Live Action, Non-Fiction, Black & White, Silent
Themes Keep fit, Health, History, Culture
Clip Length 02:00