New GCSE in filmmaking gives Hazelwood students top billing
Students at Hazelwood Integrated College in north Belfast were celebrating following their exam results for the new GCSE qualification in digital filmmaking. This year sees the first batch of students in Northern Ireland being awarded a GCSE in Moving Image Arts (MIA) by CCEA, the Council for the Curriculum Examinations and Assessment. The subject has only been available at A-Level until now.
They were only some of over 230 candidates who took the innovative qualification that involves sitting an online exam (the first of its kind in the UK) and producing short films as part of their coursework. Many of the students will now have an option to choose Moving Image Arts at A-Level and from there can opt for third level courses geared towards the creative industries.
The qualification was introduced to schools in Northern Ireland in September 2009. Students answer essay style questions on film clips which are viewed online and then saved to a central server for marking. Over 230 candidates at more than 20 centres in Northern Ireland and England took part in the exam this year.
Student Daniel McGuigan who was awarded a B said: “This subject was positively inspiring. I’m hoping to continue it at A-Level. The best part of the course for me was that you do a lot of the work outside the school rather than being confined to the classroom. I also enjoyed the editing process. I’d recommend Moving Image Arts to anybody. “
The Moving Image Arts teacher at Hazelwood, Caroline Armstrong, commented: "The new GCSE in Moving Image Arts has created greater access for those of a younger age wishing to take their first steps in this exciting industry. Many children of this age have a real interest in learning about film language and making their own movies. The MIA GCSE is a fantastic opportunity for students to get an early grounding in filmmaking skills and is an excellent foundation for those wishing to continue on to A-Level and university. Personally I have learnt a lot through delivering this course and am delighted to see the students rewarded for all their hard work."
Among the grades received by the small group of students at Hazelwood taking Moving Image Arts at GCSE there were one A*, one A, three Bs and two Cs.
The qualification has been supported since it was first launched as an A-Level in 2004 by Northern Ireland Screen Education. The government-backed screen agency has been working closely with CCEA and the Nerve Centre in the development of Moving Image Arts at A-Level and GCSE. The screen agency has created a dedicated resources website for students and teachers involved in Moving Image Arts with original funding from NESTA. The site includes access to selected material from Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive, which contains over 70 hours of moving images covering the last century in Northern Ireland and other moving image clips and resources. Northern Ireland Screen also provides support for teacher professional development in this unique qualification through Northern Ireland’s three Creative Learning Centres; the Nerve Centre in Derry~Londonderry, Studio On in Crossnacreevy and SELB’s Amma Centre in Armagh.
Hazelwood Specialist School Coordinator, Jennifer Johnston, commented: “The introduction of GCSE Moving Image Arts is a major step forward in providing a wider range of students with the skills that current employers require. The creative industries sector is the fastest growing area in our economy, and students of Moving Image Arts develop essential life and work skills in team-working, problem-solving, time and budget management, enterprise skills, and the ability to make things happen. I am delighted to see that the students have done so well”
School principal, Eileen Lenehan, added: “I am delighted with the achievement of our students in MIA and I would like to thank their teachers for giving them the opportunity to excel in this new exciting subject.”
Head of Education for Northern Ireland Screen, Bernard McCloskey said: “I would like to congratulate the students, and their teachers at Hazelwood College, who have taken part so successfully in this innovative GCSE qualification. The combination of studying film and practical filmmaking skills which form the basis of Moving Image Arts provides students with a valuable grounding for those wishing to continue their studies in this area and those wanting to pursue careers in the creative industries.”