'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
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Manager

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Nursery Manager is required t...

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before