KS2/KS3: Learn with Media

A Zoom Cymru project with Pen-y-Dre High School, Merthyr Tydfil


The Learn with Media project was set up by Zoom Cymru to help and support the use of film in the classroom, with a focus on developing literacy skills, focusing particularly on the strands of oracy and writing, and to a lesser extent reading, at Key Stages 2 and 3.


Zoom collaborated with teachers to create content and structure that specifically targeted literacy skills of the Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF). The Zoom team also offered support to teachers, via the web, email and telephone, on the use of film and digital media in the classroom.


The project aimed:

-       to enhance learners’ literacy skills, particularly:  

  • Oracy – Developing and presenting information and ideas – Speaking, Listening, Collaboration and discussion
  • Writing – Organising ideas and information – Meaning, purposes, readers, Structure and organisation
  • Writing – Writing accurately – Language. 

-       to improve school attendance and  participation in extra-curricular activities, both inside and outside of school. Data was gathered on participants and compared with a control group who were not taking part in the project, over a period of time.

-       to develop a more positive attitude to learning

-       to develop sustainable model for working with young people at KS3 by collaborating with teachers on creation of resources, worksheets and skills to enhance use of digital media across the curriculum

Because Learn with Media was a wide-ranging initiative, this case study focuses on its delivery at KS3.

What happened?

Zoom Cymru worked with boys at Pen-Y-Dre High School, Merthyr Tydfil, using structured film making activities to support students to gain new skills and knowledge across the curriculum, during a course of 10 workshops. The project had a particular focus on raising existing literacy levels.

Sessions 1 and 2 focused on ‘understanding genre and story’. Students:

  • worked in groups to develop and identify a vocabulary of effect in their response to music and image
  • structured and organised a short, sharp, shoot using ‘The Zoom Guide’
  • filmed shots in a sequential manner and created emotion and meaning out of a limited number of shots
  • created and designed a logo and poster for their production company and genre film.


These activities were to ensure that they linked directly with elements of the Literacy section of the LNF:

Speaking and Listening

  • Compare, contrast and identify short films in different genres
  • Describe and evaluate their favourite film
  • Argue the case in a group as to the specific genre of film that they would most like to make
  • Take on board the points of view and opinions of others
  • Agree on the name of their production team.

Reading Strategies/Comprehension

  • Create a logo for their team by scanning the internet for examples and by using    
  • their existing reading strategies to identify design models that are appropriate to their chosen genre
  • Identify posters for movies according to genre, working in groups
  • Scan posters and the internet for detailed information about plot and content
  • Read and break down the content of the movie posters with reference to how content and plot is expressed economically and effectively through use of text and pictures
  • Select the main point from minimal text.

Response and Analysis

  • Summarise their response to posters and films
  • Evaluate and judge the content
  • Compare and contrast the relevant trailers.


  • Create logos and posters for their chosen genres
  • Organise and develop their ‘Zoom file’
  • Complete all evaluations and self-assessment forms.
learn with media

In sessions 3 and 4, learners focused on character and story building. Students were introduced to the basic building blocks of story and asked to analyse their favourite films with reference to character and journey.

Using film, comic books and story-boards, students developed strategies for writing their own scripts. They:

  • identified protagonists and antagonists in their favourite films;
  • compared and contrasted characters in short films;
  • watched a short subtitled film;
  • read and scanned graphic novels
  • identified the main characters and their relationship to the story.

Students also wrote dialogue and descriptions for existing story boards and created a character for their drama or documentary film, before starting to plan, shoot and edit a five-shot film that matched the mood of a given piece of music.

The activities were devised to link directly with these elements of the LNF:

Speaking and Listeninge.g.debate, agree and create protagonists for their short film;

Reading Strategies/Comprehension, e.g. scan the internet for examples of story and genre; read and interpret shot lists;

Response and Analysis, e.g.justify their choices with reference to the available information and evidence;

Writing, e.g.create dialogue for existing story boards; write a character breakdown and premise for a script; compare two films and write a critical review which demonstrates the ability to present information, processes and ideas clearly.

Over the next 3 sessions, students planned their scripts, whilst in the final 3 sessions they produced and distributed the completed scripts. The later sessions also introduced incidental Welsh, with students learning about roles and set commands in both languages. 

Evaluation and Assessment

The Learn with Media project had a very strong emphasis on assessing and evaluating learners’ progress against specific criteria, through teacher assessment, peer assessment and self-assessment.

 The initial baseline assessment used:

  • assessment against the LNF (Literacy) during September 2013 and January  


  • assessment of learning competencies across curricula using Cognitive Ability

          Testing (CATs) measured during September 2013 and January 2014;

  • assessment using Pupil Attitude to Self and School (PASS) survey measured 

          during September 2013 and January 2014.

Zoom Cymru also collated and recorded digital evaluations, through interviews and self-assessment by participants. 

The final assessments were carried out, using the same assessment and evaluation procedures during July and September 2014.


The project resulted in the development of a range of resources and workbooks to support the delivery of film workshops at Key Stage 2 and 3.


Film is an architectural discipline that encompasses many different crafts and disciplines – art, design, computing, creative writing, organizational skills and maths. 

Professional film making requires a high level of skill and expertise on the part of practitioners. However, in schools it is often regarded as part of IT delivery, involving IT processes and simple mechanical skills.