In 1999, funding support from the AIB Millennium Programme (and later the AIB Better Ireland Programme) allowed ‘aspirations to become realities’ for the visionaries of the FÍS Film Making Pilot Project. A public/private partnership between AIB and the then Department of Education & Science enabled the Institute of Art, Design & Technology, Dún Laoghaire (IADT), to embark on an initiative designed “to enhance the educational and life experiences of children in participating schools through the medium of film” and to support the roll out of a new Primary School Curriculum (NCCA, 1999a).
FÍS (literally translated from Irish as Vision) was officially launched in 2000. The pilot involving 28 schools was highly successful and teachers readily embraced new technologies, set about embedding the film-making process and the creative use of ICT in primary school classrooms. In 2004, the project was scaled with support from the Department of Education & Science. A series of lesson plans, teaching resources and professional development courses were made available through a strategic partnership between IADT, the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST), the nationwide network of (teacher) Education Centres and later the development of online educational resources available at www.fisfilmproject.ie.
To mark the nationwide launch of FÍS, IADT developed an annual awards ceremony where shortlisted films are showcased and celebrated in front of a national audience of almost 1,000 in the Helix Theatre, Dublin each year. FÍS champion and visionary, Aileen MacKeogh, then Head of School, IADT held firm to her belief that film could support the primary curriculum. She was right! Sadly, Aileen passed away in 2005. Today, the most prestigious award at the annual ceremony is made in her honour – the Aileen MacKeogh Film of the Year Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film-making.
The awards ceremony is a unique collaboration between first and third level education working together. Students from IADT’s National Film School (NFS), MA in Broadcast Production for Radio & TV programme are responsible for the live broadcasting and filming of the ceremony. The event is also streamed live via the FÍS Film Project website courtesy of the National Education & Research network, HEAnet.
Tens of thousands of Irish primary school children have been involved in FÍS film making over the lifetime of the project. The project has demonstrated that film-making can provide creative, relevant and memorable learning experiences for children. What’s more, because of the collaborative nature of film-making, they develop communication, team working, decision making, problem solving as well as technical skills – all of which helps to prepare them for the future.
Hundreds of teachers have also benefitted from professional development in digital storytelling, film-making, animation and ICT skills.
Film & TV Students
In addition, IADT students crew the annual FÍS Film Awards Ceremony, giving them the opportunity to put their newly honed skills into practice in a live broadcast production, engage in industry relevant learning experiences and create networking opportunities.
A co-ordinated approach between the PDST, the nationwide network of (teacher) Education Centres, the FÍS Office at IADT and IADT’s National Film School is what makes FÍS successful and its longevity is testimony to the commitment of many. FÍS remains as relevant today as it did when AIB offered support for this bold new initiative. FÍS is an exemplar for the creative use of technology in Irish primary school classrooms. Participation in FÍS is one of the many ways Irish primary schools can achieve digital and primary curriculum learning targets set by the Department of Education. Feedback from teachers is continuously positive and indicative of the inclusive, creative, imaginative and technology rich experience that FÍS offers to participating schools. FÍS is open to all designated Department of Education primary schools in the Republic of Ireland.
FÍS Film Project – finalist in the 2020 MEDEA Awards
After 20 years of the www.fisfilmproject.ie it was a huge honour for FÍS to be a shortlisted finalist in this years’ 2020 European MEDEA Awards. The awards took place on Wednesday 28 October 2020. FÍS was awarded 2nd place in the audience vote award and the success can be attributed in no small way to the support of principals, teachers, teacher educators and PDST professionals across the country.
MEDEA awards seek to bring to the forefront inspirational activities and teachers in the educational community. The project was shortlisted because the judges recognised excellence in the production and design of media-rich learning resources, innovation and good practice in the use of media (audio, video, graphics & animation) in education. Competition was tough with six other shortlisted entries from across Europe; the University of Bern, Switzerland, University College Dublin, Dublin, University of Granada, Spain, University of Porto, Portugal, University of Science and Technology, Norway and the Open University, UK. It was a fantastic achievement for FÍS to be a finalist for the prestigious award as it celebrates and acknowledges how FÍS supports teachers to realise the curriculum in an interesting and interactive way. The repository of films on this website, made in Irish primary schools, shows how creativity combined with technology, influences how children learn, makes learning meaningful and highlights the richness of its impact.