Star Tilda Swinton wants film studies qualification at every Scots school

OSCAR-winning actress Tilda Swinton and a host of leading arts figures have called for a film studies qualification to be made available to all secondary school pupils in Scotland.

Nairn-based Swinton has joined Last King of Scotland director Kevin McDonald and writer-director Mark Cousins in claiming that film has been neglected by the Scottish school system.

Writing an open letter to education secretary Michael Russell in today's Scotsman, they said: "In 1947 the Edinburgh International Film Festival was set up because its founders believed that it was a grave omission not to include film in a festival of the arts.

Hide Ad

"This omission of the 'seventh art' has been replicated within the Scottish school system and persists to this day, leaving Scotland as the only home nation with no general educational qualifications in moving image arts."

The signatories said they realised the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) already provided vocational qualifications in video and film production for those seeking employment in the media sector.

However, they want a national qualification available to all school pupils so they can "gain full appreciation of the workings and pleasures of cinematic art."

It could be modelled on an A level in Moving Image Arts currently offered in Northern Ireland, but available at only one school in Scotland: Williamwood High School in East Renfrewshire.

Two years ago, Scottish Screen and the Association for Media Education in Scotland approached SQA with a proposal for moving image national qualifications, but it was rejected.

Now the group of signatories hopes the Curriculum for Excellence will give them another chance.

Hide Ad

"Given the sad history of the neglect of media and moving image education in Scotland I feel that if we fail this time it will be another generation before such an opportunity arises," said signatory Rick Instrell, a media literacy consultant.

Also signing the letter to Mr Russell was Oscar-nominated cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, artist Douglas Gordon, film director Lynne Ramsay, best known for Ratcatcher, Screen Academy Scotland director Professor Robin MacPherson, and film studies lecturers from universities across Scotland.

Hide Ad

However, Ken Cunningham, general secretary of School Leaders Scotland, said there were not the resources to bring in new qualifications available to all students.

He said: "The truth of the matter is that schools already do film studies and media studies and there has been a growth in this kind of qualification in schools.

"But because of resources it's difficult to balance the books. If something new comes in, something else has to go out.

"It just couldn't be done (at all schools], but then that's true of every new type of course. You keep pressuring for them, if there's a genuine need for them people will sign up for them and they develop over time."

Mr Russell said: "I would be happy to meet with Tilda Swinton and her colleagues to discuss their ideas about moving image arts education, in the context of the changes taking place through Curriculum for Excellence – which includes opportunities for young people to develop their knowledge and understanding of expressive arts."