Schools Challenge | General Knowledge Quiz

Richard Gent | Wednesday, April 18, 2012 | 0 Comments


What is it?

Schools Challenge is a general knowledge quiz for schools. It’s been running since 1978 and involves around 250 schools in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

How’s it played?

It was based on University Challenge, so if you’ve ever watched that, you’ll have a reasonably good idea of how Schools Challenge works, though we flatter ourselves that we’ve made some necessary improvements. The basic format has two teams, each with four members, using buzzers and playing each other for half an hour. Each round of questions comprises a ‘starter’, which individuals buzz to answer; the team that has guessed the starter correctly then has the first chance to answer three related ‘bonus’ questions. (Schools Challenge, unlike University Challenge, allows the other team to answer bonus questions the first team hasn’t responded to correctly.)

How is the competition arranged?

The country is divided into regions with up to 16 schools in each region: Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have a region each. Each region is run as a separate competition on a knockout basis, and is under the control of a Regional Organiser.

Opponents in the competition are chosen by a draw (which takes geographical location into account, in order to reduce travelling). Some (smaller) regions play all their matches in a single afternoon or evening; some divide into two halves and play on two days, with the winners meeting each other later; some play in pairs, arranging time and place by mutual agreement. Once the regional competition is completed, the winning schools from each region then play a set of inter-regional matches to reduce the number to eight teams; and those teams meet to determine the national winner. Both regional and national winners receive a shield that they are entitled to keep until the next year’s competition.

When does it all take place?

The Senior Competition is played during the second half of the autumn term and the first half of the spring term, with the Inter-Regionals played in March and the National Finals at the end of April. The Junior Competition is played during the spring term, with the Inter-Regionals in May and the National Finals in mid to late June.

Which year groups can enter Schools Challenge?

There are actually two competitions. The first, Senior Schools Challenge, is open to pupils from any year up to and including Year 13 / Upper Sixth, and must include two pupils from Year 10 or below: most schools field two Sixth Formers and two pupils from Year 9 and/or 10. The second, Junior Schools Challenge, is open to pupils up to and including Year 8 (it was originally designed for prep schools, but many maintained secondary schools and a few middle schools take part).

What sort of questions are asked?

Anything you can think of may be asked, as long as it can be considered ‘general knowledge’: current affairs, history, geography, language, literature, sport, science, music (classical and popular), television, film, drama, famous people… We don’t ask ‘Trivial Pursuit’ style questions (‘How many people went to the doctor complaining of acne in 1972?’).

Who sets the questions? And how can we see what they’re like?

All questions are compiled and produced by the National Organisers, Paul and Sue Sims, and sent out via the Regional Organisers: you can see some specimen questions by emailing Paul and Sue (see below). Questions used in previous years can be obtained from the latter at a nominal cost to cover photocopying and postage; these can be useful in helping to select a team or in running your own internal competition, as well as for practice.

Where can we get buzzer equipment? And is it very expensive?

Initially, you don’t need any equipment, as the majority of schools in the competition already have their own sets, and can supply whatever’s needed. If you take part regularly you’ll probably want your own buzzers. If you don’t have a friendly D & T or Physics department, or if you want the professional stuff, Jaser Electronics are the first port of call: their buzzers are designed specifically for Schools Challenge. They’re not cheap (prices are shown on the website), but schools with active Parents’ Associations have often found them helpful!

How much does it cost?

The school subscription rate is currently £18, to cover administration. Many regions allow schools to enter two teams, the subscription for dual entry is £24.

You’ve almost persuaded us. How can we find out more?

We’re in the process of creating a Schools Challenge website, though the exigencies of actually running the competition have taken up too much time to get it finished! In the meantime, email Paul and Sue Sims, the National Organisers, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to inquire further.

Categories: Weeklies, Promotions, Competitions
Tags: schools challenge, schools challenge general knowledge quiz, sue sims, university challenge for schools,

Up Series Documentary | 56 Up Coming Soon

Richard Gent | Saturday, April 07, 2012 | 0 Comments

I don’t think this is the entire series but these clips alone are compelling viewing. Have we learnt anything from it though?

That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day. [Source: Great Expectations, Chapter 9]

Further Information

Up Series is a series of documentary films that have followed the lives of fourteen British children since 1964, when they were seven years old. The children were selected to represent the range of socio-economic backgrounds in Britain at that time, with the explicit assumption that each child’s social class predetermines their future. Every seven years, the director, Michael Apted, films new material from as many of the fourteen as he can get to participate. Filming for the next installment in the series, 56 Up, is expected in late 2011 or early 2012, with a scheduled premiere from 13-15 May 2012.[1] In 2005, the Channel 4 programme The 50 Greatest Documentaries saw the series topping the list in first position. [Source: Up Series on Wikipedia]

Categories: Weeklies
Tags: 14 up, 21 up, 28 up, 35 up, 42 up, 49 up, 56 up, 7 up series, granada television, michael apted,

Editsense | A Film Language & Film Making Interactive DVD

Richard Gent | Wednesday, December 14, 2011 | 0 Comments

Editsense & Filmsense

What is Editsense?


‘Editsense is a new approach to learning about film language and film-making’.

This is an interactive DVD with excellent, practical examples of film - perfect for teachers of moving image, be it English, Creative and Digital Media or Film Studies.

It has over fifty video examples and includes materials for the introduction and revision of film. 

The site licence is now available for £69.00+VAT. This is a 30% discount from the original price of £99.00+VAT

What does it include?

It includes video examples of film language including camerawork, mise-en-scene, editing techniques, sound and even advanced features like continuity

Each term and video clip has a clear definition to make it easy for students to understand the medium specific language. This is great for directed teaching.

To then move onto independent work, users are then able to edit a range of shots. These include:


click on image to enlarge

On a deserted beach a boy gets a text.

A girl in black approaches from behind. Is she a ghost, a lover or a killer?

It’s up to you: choose from over 50 shots with different action, framing, focal length, camera position and movement, then create a soundtrack.

Edit it on your own or follow a step-by-step guide.



This sequence from the S4C youth drama ‘Rownd a Rownd’ shows a taxi swerving to avoid a sheep in the road and turning over. The action has been filmed from two camera positions outside the car and from positions inside the car.



In an empty building, a boy climbs stairs towards a darkened room. What’s waiting for him?



A girl runs to a lift, waits anxiously until she gets to the top floor, and runs to a locked door.

Lift and Stairs can be used together for a parallel editing or flashback sequence. They can also be combined with the static cutaways of the building below.


By having a range of shots and narratives, students can quickly experiment with editing skills before they start their own work.

This is an invaluable opportunity as all the hard work is done for you. You can use either PCs (MovieMaker, Premiere or Pinnacle) or Mac (iMovie or Final Cut) software to edit it. Please note that the Editsense clips are in 4:3 aspect ratio, which is no longer supported in iMovie 10 (released October 2013). The clips can still be used but will be automatically cropped to fit 16:9 widescreen.

What is Filmsense?

click on image to enlarge

Filmsense – included on the Editsense DVD-ROM – is an introduction to film language for teenagers and young adults. It includes over 50 video clips, 24 still clips, and clear explanations of the basic elements of film language. It’s particularly relevant to students who will be making films as part of Media Studies, Film Studies or Moving Image Arts coursework.

What does it cover?

  • mise-en-scène: setting, costume, gesture, light and colour
  • camera: framing, angle, lens, movement, cutaways, inserts, reaction shots
  • continuity: shot-reverse shot, looking space, eyeline match, the 180 degree rule
  • time: scene time, stretch time, compressed time, ellipsis, parallel editing, flashbacks
  • editing: sequencing, selecting action, editing on the action, jump cuts, split edits/sound bridges, montage, pace
  • sound: diegetic, music, voiceover, editing to music

click on image to enlarge

click on image to enlarge

Filmsense runs in full-screen mode or a resizeable window on Mac or PC.

click on image to enlarge

To accompany this, there are printable guides - both small storyboard size and full frames. The videos are dialogue free so students of all languages are able to access it.

Edusites is so impressed with this product we are endorsing it.  |

We are also offering Edusites training for teachers and students, using Editsense. If you are interested in either a half or full day of Editing (theory and / or practical), please email us. We know that editing can create headaches for teachers and students alike. We want to cut that out.

Where can I buy Editsense?

You can buy it from us. Edusites are now selling Editsense.

Contact us by email, fax or phone to order your copy and licence.

[e] .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
[t] 01604 847689
[f] 01604 843220


  • System requirements - Films are in standard definition DV PAL format, 4:3 aspect ratio.
  • Hard disc space: 4.11 GB to install everything, 3.43Gb to install all the practice films. They can be installed individually.
  • A site licence costs £69.00+VAT. This is a 30% discount from the original price of £99.00+VAT

Categories: Weeklies, Promotions, Film Studies
Tags: editing dvd, editing training, editsense, film language, film language dvd, film studies editing, filmsense, mise-en-scene,

Adverts or Events? A Rantfest.

Nicole Ponsford | Friday, November 25, 2011 | 0 Comments

My sister - to my utter shame - says (online and to anyone who will listen) that is only Christmas when she sees the Cola advert, The Holidays are Coming. Shudder. It does seem that adverts are now events. The recent British Airways advert ACTUALLY HAD ADVERTS. It also has a making of film online. 64,000+ views. SHUDDERSHUDDER.

I know I am a tough nut but, since becoming a parent (a year ago - I know!), I now am a mummy who cries at things about children. I do get sentimental. I used to scorn it, now I sob. The John Lewis advert = me, an emotional mess in front of my giggling (and pointing) husband. Maybe I should have sat next to Charlie Brooker. I would be laughing for another reason then:

I heard it coming before I saw it: reports reached me of people blubbing in front of their televisions (Ed’s note: Sorry Charlie), so moved were they by this simple tale of a fictional boy counting the hours until he can give his parents a gift for Christmas. Given the fuss they were making, the tears they shed, you’d think they were watching footage of shoeless orphans being kicked face-first into a propeller. But no. They were looking at an advert for a shop.

An advert for a shop. That’s all the John Lewis thing is, and as such it’s no more moving than the “So Near, So Spar” campaign of the mid-1980s. Anyone who cries at this creepy bullshit is literally sobbing IQ points out of their body. Is this really what we’ve become – a species that weeps at adverts for shops? A commercial has only made me feel genuinely sad on one occasion – 25 January 1990, when a falling billboard nearly killed ‘Allo ‘Allo star Gorden Kaye.

Fortunately Kaye recovered. Unlike the family dog in that advert. Yes, it’s clear to me that the box at the end of the John Lewis ad actually contains the severed head of the family dog, and that this advert is actually a chillingly accurate short film about the yuletide awakening of a psychopath-in-training. In July the dog was butchered with a breadknife: the deranged young assailant has been waiting since then to present his “trophy” to his parents. Those are the facts. And anyone who thinks I’m lying, bear this in mind: I have asked John Lewis directly (over Twitter) to confirm or deny whether there’s a dog’s head in that box, and so far it has maintained a stony silence on the issue. Which speaks for itself. So don’t sob for the syrupy Christmas story – sob for the slaughtered hound, you selfish and terrible idiots.

I do think that some of these marketing strategies are a bit - well - smug and over indulgent. Phew. That’s better. Sigh.

If you want to look at advertising, or any other media form, here are a few of my favourite resources on EnglishEdu. No blubbing. No syrup. Promise.

Link: English | Media Non-Fiction Activities

Link: EnglishEdu | Magazine Ads Survey Template

Link: EnglishEdu | Media Analysis

Link: John Lewis Advert

Link: The Making of the JL Advert (I kid you not)

Link: The Holidays Are Coming

Link: BA

Link: BA 2 |  Yes,  it also has a making of video

Categories: Weeklies
Tags: adverts, adverts or events, british airways advert, british airways making of advert film, coca cola holidays are coming, john lewis advert, magazine ads survey template, making of jl advert, media analysis, media non fiction activities,

Physical Words

Nicole Ponsford | Friday, November 25, 2011 | 0 Comments


I quite like it when mediums join forces. There is a lovely video of some physical theatre and a TS Eliot poem. I think this is a great idea for students. Have a look and see what you think. Could you and Dance / Drama work together on this?

Link: Guardian | Physical Theatre & TS Eliot Poem

Link: EnglishEdu | Analysing Poetry

Categories: Weeklies
Tags: abi morgan, analysing poetry, cross-curricular collaboration, english dance drama, frantic assembly, physical theatre, physical theatre video, physical words, ts eliot poem,

Next Page »
(32 pages)