'Fancy a night at the movies? let's go to school'

The lights dim and the audience settles back in front of the gleaming expanse of cinemascope screen for a classic movie.

The lights dim and the audience settles back in front of the gleaming expanse of cinemascope screen for a classic movie.

the film buffs relax in their plush seats while the gleam of the 35mm projectors plays on the projection-room window and the sound rises from dolby surround speakers as the titles roll.

it could be an art-house cinema in a trendy district of north london, shoulder to shoulder with nightclubs and the odd bar serving tapas and bottled mexican beer.

in fact, it is the school theatre of an ordinary, 1,100-pupil comprehensive on the western edge of grimsby. whitgift school in lincolnshire is the only one of its kind in britain, blessed with a high-quality 203-seat cinema in the heart of the school buildings.

pupils walk past the foyer packed with classic movie posters every day on their way to lessons - and can enjoy the magic of the silver screen, where their colleagues elsewhere might have to put up with just a video player on a stand in the corner of the classroom.

the cinema will be in use next week, as teachers and the managers of the grimsby screen put on a special season of movies for children from whitgift and other schools across the region.

with the nearest modern multiplex 40 miles away, for some it will be their first taste of the real magic of cinema the way the film directors wanted it to be.

whitgift is the product of 1970s planning, when the british film institute's plans for a network of regional film theatres coincided with the local authority's plans for a new school on the outskirts of the town.

the school serves the neighbouring wybers wood and greatcoats estates, and is making the cinema a full part of its mainstream curriculum.

teachers have arranged for students studying shakespeare to watch films as part of their course, while the media-studies department has arranged a mini-season of classic documentaries, starting with the post office classic night train, for their gcse students.

laurie boxer, the school's head of media studies and drama, said the use of the big screen was increasing after it was bought out from grimsby council by a group of enthusiasts who saved the cinema from closure.

he said: "they have a huge film library and are happy to arrange a screening if we say we are doing romeo and juliet, for example. we also use the theatre to show videos on a much bigger screen.

"if you don't show film and television, you might as well not teach english. visual media is now a normal way of communication. we have had 100 years of film, 150 years of photography and thousands of years of painting. people talk and think in filmic terms."

the cinema is open to the public four days a week, but has become a real part of school life.

"the children appreciate that a film is a bit more than a video. we showed them the crucible, by arthur miller. it's quite a heavy film for a lot of ordinary kids, but after the first 10 seconds there was total silence. emotionally they were gripped by it in a way they would never be by the telly.

"there's always a changing display of film posters in the foyer, so the children are aware of films they would not normally encounter. they are seeing films that perhaps they have never heard of and thinking 'that looks interesting'."

the school, unsurprisingly, has built up a reputation for its media-studies courses, which developed out of the old film studies a-level once taught in whitgift's sixth form, which has now been abolished after the opening of a new sixth-form college.

"it brings the community into the school," said mr boxer, who once worked in marketing for columbia pictures in soho's wardour street during the early 1970s.

he said: "i remember someone brought round the british film institute's newsletter which said they were opening all these film theatres, including one in a school," he said.

"we really had a good laugh about it. thirty years later i am here."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

WORLDbytes: Two-Day Intensive Camera training and Shoot: Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th March

expenses on shoots: WORLDbytes: Volunteering with a media based charity,for a ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 4 Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A school in Tameside is currently l...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £70 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are currently looking for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003