Spotlight on Media Studies

In a world saturated with information, it has never been so important to understand the process behind how the media shapes our lives and perspective of the world around us. In the latest in our Spotlight on… features, Media Studies takes the stage as we explore how our pupils analyse and deconstruct our omnipresent media, while developing their own creative skills.

The Media Studies department shares with the Art department not only the same sunlit upper floor of the Beardwood Arts Centre, but also a surge in popularity in recent years. Beginning within the English department, it became a standalone department nearly twenty years ago. Media Studies is now offered as a GCSE and A-level subject, and in 2018 a BTEC course in Creative Digital Media Production was introduced. The department has grown from one to four members of staff, and since 2017 numbers have increased by 60 students across all qualifications.

Head of Media Studies Craig Foxall gives an insight into why the subject is so important:

“Media Studies is about understanding how the world is constructed and how we are encouraged to perceive it. It is as much cultural anthropology as anything else. Students come to understand the far-reaching effects of media on global cultures, communities and democracies. The media landscape is evolving at a phenomenal rate, and in a world of information and disinformation where the way we consume media has more influence than we could have forseen, young people are becoming more aware and more analytical about the powers of media, both mainstream and social.

“The students find it really empowering to be able to see behind and understand media campaigns, whether they eventually aim to be part of that industry themselves as a creative or whether as a more knowledgeable consumer. A well-informed media student won’t just understand the media, but will understand how the world works.”

Many pupils of course want to also learn these skills for themselves as they consider the countless career opportunities there are within the creative and media industries. It is therefore also a hands-on subject: pupils will make their own films, write their own newspapers, set up their own websites, create their own music videos and cross-media and marketing campaigns. They interact with modern technology in lots of ways, using state-of-the-art IT programmes and video and sound editing software.

There are also plenty of opportunities for pupils to get involved with co-curricular Media clubs and activities.  A House Media competition is held every spring, an event which sees classrooms transformed into newsrooms and the school site become a location shoot as students compete to source the news, write the scripts and film, edit and broadcast their reports.

2023 saw the inaugural End-of-Year Media Show, a hugely successful platform for showcasing the creative and technical skills of Media Studies students. Plans are now afoot for the launch of Media Colfe’s, a new online gallery space which will exhibit some of the back catalogue of work from students past and present.

Mr Foxall said: “We are very excited about the forthcoming launch of the Media Colfe’s online gallery. We have a huge collection of outstanding moving image work, opening film sequences, short films and music videos created by students.

“Media Studies is an ever-evolving subject and after nearly twenty years here at Colfe’s I am never bored. The content is kept fresh and up to date, and we embrace new industry-standard technology to deliver the content. The thing that drives us as teachers isn’t only supporting students to achieve high grades, but does their work look professional? Would someone see this work and think “I’m not watching a student video but I’m watching a professional piece of work”, and we don’t stop until we have supported every student to rise to that challenge and achieve that to the absolute best of their abilities.”

For more information about Media Studies GCSE and A-level and Creative Digital Media Production BTEC please visit the Media Studies academic page.

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