Chelmsford City Museums
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Partnership Film Makers Project with Westlands Primary School exploring extraordinary Chelmsford people.

Project aims:

  • Explore the use of digital technology as a vehicle to enable pupils to reflect on learning in the museum and creatively share their ideas and discoveries with a wider audience.  
  • Experiment with different styles of presentation and delivery in our sessions.
  • Develop a new Key Stage 2 Local History session exploring the stories of ‘extraordinary’ Chelmsford people.
  • Investigate how digital technology could be used as a tool to enhance links between museum and classroom learning.



Learning sessions girl with ipad

Project partners: Westlands Primary School 

What did the project involve?: 

The project involved the three Year 6 classes at Westlands Primary School. Their topic for the term was ‘Extraordinary People’ and they were keen to include a focus on local Chelmsford people.  Over a 3 week period in the Autumn term, each class took part in a half-day visit to the museum and half- day session in school.  

Session at Chelmsford Museum: Pupils explored the lives of two ‘extraordinary’ local people: local suffragette Grace Chappelow and Marconi.  We posed the question, ‘What makes someone ‘extraordinary?’ and used different styles of presentation, including costumed interpretation, role play, object handling and photos to share both character’s stories.  

Before ‘meeting’ Grace, pupils took part in a simple role play activity to experience how the inequality of rights at the time affected different groups in society and to encourage empathy for those groups.  After ‘meeting’ Grace and hearing her story, pupils were able to see a few of her personal belongings on display – including the bowl and spoon that she managed to smuggle out of Holloway prison. 

In contrast, we used objects and images to explore Marconi’s story, focussing on significant moments in his life, exploring their impact on Chelmsford and the world and their continuing legacy today in new technology we use. 

Pupils were then divided into small teams of 6 and challenged to work as together as ‘film directors’ to plan and produce a ‘mini-movie’ to tell the story of one of these people and why they were ‘extraordinary’. Each group were given an ipad mini and shown how to use the app ‘imovie’ to create a film using photographs, voice over recordings and green screen filming. The session at the museum ended with teams using a paper ‘story board template’ to begin to plan their movie. 

Session in school:   In a 2 hour follow-up session in school pupils worked in their teams to produce their films. Using a ‘green screen app’ they recorded ‘live’ interviews with their character and combined these with photographs and ‘voice over recordings’ to tell whole story.  Teams were encouraged to reflect on their character’s key achievements and on what made them significant.  

We ended each session projecting their films on the smartboard.  All the groups completed their films and were amazed at what they had achieved in the time. When the first class was asked what advice they would give the other groups one pupil said: ‘never underestimate what you can achieve’. 

Outcomes: impact on pupils learning 

Over 95% of the pupils said that they enjoyed the project and learned a great deal and were very proud of the films they produced. Feedback from teaching staff and pupils was very positive and all were keen to repeat this session. The films produced 

demonstrate strong evidence of creativity, imagination, empathy, critical thinking and questioning, problem solving, literacy – speaking, listening and writing, digital skills and team work, organisational skills and increased confidence.  Throughout the sessions pupils were highly engaged. The responsibility to create their own ‘mini-movie’, sparked their imagination and provided a strong context, purpose, motivation and challenge.  

Pupils comments about the project: 

What were the biggest challenges to making your movie? 

 ‘Trying to get all the information into it, getting the story into the structure (story board) to make a film.’ 

‘Everyone working together, we had to listen to each other’s ideas, and it was hard to fit all the ideas together.’  ‘There were so many good ideas but we couldn’t use them all.’ 

‘Doing a massive take and it all goes wrong, it was hard and frustrating to do a re-take.’ 

‘Not repeating and not stuttering during the filming.’ 

What were the good things about working in groups? 

 Everyone’s ideas made it better.’  ‘It involved team work and listening to others’ 

‘When I struggled, different people in the group knew how to do it.’  ‘You learnt new skills’.