National strategies, Structures and models

Why strategy? An ideal model of film education

Why is it a good idea to organise our ideas, resources, and plans into something called a ‘strategy’?

National strategies, Structures and models

The idea of ‘strategy’ can be seen, cynically, as the creation of a document, Powerpoint, or short publication that makes big claims, bold promises, but is short on detail. Strategies too often are designed near the top of an organisation, and handed to others to implement. They are often internal-facing, imagining that the outside world can just be brought alongside. The legendary management guru Peter Drucker famously said ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast.’ His insight struck a chord: the cleverest thinking, on the most impressive Powerpoint, can’t overcome reality.

The worlds of business, commerce, politics, education and culture are littered with these bold idealistic plans that became redundant when a government or CEO moved on, and the worlds of film education are no different. There are social and cultural realities at play in the world at large that make any attempt to establish bold plans for film education very difficult indeed. For example, the dominance of the American film studios in the UK film market means that non-English language, or independent niche English language film, finds it very hard to reach an audience.

However, it is vital in any endeavour to sometimes think big, and bold, and imagine creatively. Creating a shared vision can be very powerful for an organisation, no matter how big or small. It takes people away from micro-focused project details, and the day-to-day. If it genuinely thinks from the ‘bottom up’, as well as ‘top down’, and listens to stakeholders and interest groups, then a strategy can create clarity and purpose, and excitement and energy.

In 2012, a group of European organisations surveyed 33 EU and EEA countries to gauge the state of film education in Europe. They found that in only a handful of countries was there a comprehensive plan for film education, that covered all the sectors and stakeholders and interest groups, and that crucially, had all the main players actively in support. The publication of the survey, ‘Screening Literacy’, listed all the components of an ‘ideal model of film education’ which we have inserted below.


Think about your own country, or region, or organisation: how many of the elements of the ‘ideal model’ do you recognise? Do you know if there is a comprehensive strategy for film education in your country or region? Post your thoughts in the Notepad below. For interested readers, we link to the whole Screening Literacy report here, with the ‘Ideal Model’ found below.


After surveying the 30 countries included in this report, we are able to make some judgements on the factors that support, and the features which characterise, strong national models of film education provision.

Typically in those countries the ecology of film education will feature a high degree of co-ordination across sectors (education and culture agencies in government; NGOs; film and broadcast agencies) supported by a national strategic plan. There will be a range of purposes behind film education, covering industrial concerns (adventurous audiences; a skilled workforce), but fundamentally underpinned by an entitlement on behalf of all people to become ‘literate’ in the moving image. These purposes will be explicit,shared, and valued by all participants in the culture, with little special pleading or claims to priority treatment.

It is likely that a strong film education ecology is part of a wider culture in film, that supports education and access to film for a range of people – children, older people,diverse and marginal groups – and public funding of film culture will follow this commitment.

Learners, and learning, in informal education will be valued as highly as in formal settings, and recognised as operating differently. There will be a commitment to having provision in all sectors robustly and independently evaluated; providers, even at a national level, will have a clear commitment to improving their provision.

These countries will feature high levels of participation in film education, in activities that are sustained across a period of time, with measured and recorded outcomes. Funding responsibilities will be distributed across public, commercial, education and cultural sectors, and delivered around a shared national plan.

The film education workforce, from trained film teachers, to teachers of other subjects with an interest in film, to support workers in schools, and then workers in the informal sector (freelance educators, youth and community workers, cultural workers) will have recognisable and funded professional development opportunities that support them from entry level to expert status, and with accreditation to validate their development.

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