Hartlepool Sixth Form College is the North East’s fastest growing specialist sixth form college with more than 900 students, the majority studying advanced level subjects. The college has achieved the top A level pass rates in the Tees Valley for the past 4 years, with the 2008 results reaching 99.7%, placing the college in the top 5% nationally.
The College’s extensive campus is based around a fully restored Merchant’s House which dates from the 19th century and has recently seen the completion of the first phase of a £24.5 million new build. Features include new purpose built classrooms of University standard, a new state of the art theatre and specialist facilities for Art and Photography, Media and Film Studies and ICT/Computing. Jan Brown, Head of Media Studies, Film Studies and Communication & Culture explained that the original concept of their new studio developed with the opportunity to participate in the planning of the new build. “The Media Department got together and decided that a designated studio space would be the ideal facility to enable Media, Film and Communication students to get creative with their video coursework.” Prior to the new studio being built students either filmed in the college grounds, used a blue or green screen backdrop in a classroom or booked camcorders to film outside of the college. Having a purpose built studio now provides continuity for the students enabling them to progress without disruptions from weather conditions.
The new studio is being put to good use by the Enrichment students in the Brinkburn Media group. This group is currently fulfilling live video briefs from two housing associations in Hartlepool to add to their websites and the Photography Department love the creative options now available to them. The studio will also be used in the running of the College’s yearly media project with a local secondary school, where students will come along to work with staff to plan and create a variety of small video projects. The College also produces video marketing tools to take to China on their yearly recruitment visit and the studio will be the ideal space to film this year’s piece.
Jan told us how the new studio benefits the students “It gives them the opportunity to work with industry standard equipment in a setting that is very different from the traditional classroom experience. It encourages them to think outside the box and gives them a taste of work in the real media world” She explained further “Once the students have a grasp of the new technology and its wide range of features, they have quickly embedded it into the planning and construction of their A level coursework” Jan was clearly thrilled to report that they have even had a group filming for a whole day of their half term break!
The studio has also helped students improve their group participation and communication skills. Jan explained “All the students have developed the ability to participate in a group to a very high degree. They need to ensure that they designate production roles effectively to complete their shoot within the given time in order to meet their deadline and not impose on the time of other groups.”
The installation of the studio has proved to be a significantly positive step for Hartlepool Sixth Form College. Planned future projects include video extracts for a wide range of subject areas, video messages to deliver in tutorial sessions and liaison with Performing Arts to utilise live feed during college performances. As the use of the studio increases, it is envisaged that the College will expand the use into a wider range of cross-curricular areas and across the feeder schools in the town.
Four years ago the College procured the Planet eStream solution, which Jan has used extensively for Film Studies, giving students easy access to course materials in their study periods. The new studio now presents Jan with the opportunity for students to create their own content and archive it on the Planet eStream database. Jan has also identified the potential to stream the student council election speeches and other projects live across the college network and the internet next year.
Jan concluded by saying “Planet PC gives an excellent service and their staff are extremely friendly and supportive. The training and support from Planet PC would be hard to beat!”