Centre for Creative Media Research > Video Critical

Blenheim Primary School:
Photographs and description of the video

The edited video (17 minutes 21 seconds):

Titles: To the sound of a song about the environment performed by the children (written by Charlotte & Rebekah), we see shots of the school, in sunshine and in snow. The song begins, 'People, people, you are mean, You don't keep our environment clean...,' and ends, 'This has gone on far too long, you think you're right but you are wrong!'.

We cut to Ryan in the playground: 'This is our school!'. Then to Charlotte, in the school grounds, holding a map. She shows us where we are, and says, 'We want to tell you about the environment, and about litter, and all this mess that's around here. If you look around there's all rubbish and cans and bottles and plastic bags. All plants have died out, and it's very awful'. Then Rebekah shows us the monument and church nearby, and notes all the litter around.

Charlotte, Rebekah and Anna show us a place in the same area where there is further litter - 'And it's all because of people like you', says Charlotte, 'who are throwing it all on the ground. It's destroying it and it's making it look awful'. Anna expresses concerns that tree growth may be impaired, and then all three of them note a messily broken-down fence. Charlotte and Anna criticise those who spoil the grass instead of taking the path across the school field. Majid criticises litter and damage caused to a bush.

Then Adam introduces us to a 'very horrible' area of land at the bottom of the school field where there was once a Catholic school, which had a fire and was demolished. Now there is just rubble and waste ground. Chabu elaborates: 'People are just putting all their rubbish here. You could now change it into something else. What would you like it change it into? You could change it into some meadows. Or a swimming pool'.

Charlotte, inside school, explains that the group wants to know what is going to happen to the Catholic school site. 'We are going to write a letter to the Leeds City Council about what they are going to do with it. Chabu is going to ring them up and ask why'.

To music, the camera (held by Ryan) follows Chabu and Majid through the school to the secretary's office. Chabu dials the Council. We see his phone call, intercut with shots of the waste ground in question. 'Um hello, I'm a pupil from Blenheim Primary School and we're doing a project about the environment. Who could we write to ask about the Rosary Roman Catholic School and what are they going to do with the er land?... Pardon, what did you say? The wh? Planning?... Yeah... Yeah... Yeah, so it's erm write to P. Cook, the Headrow building, Leeds 1. Okay. Bye'. Then Chabu reports back on the conversation, which he did not find particularly helpful.

We cut to Rebekah, who reads us her letter to the Council, and then Anna, followed by Adam, then Majid, who do the same. All note that the wasteground is spoiling the environment, and ask the Council what they are going to do about it.

We cut to some shots from the library, where the children have interviewed each other. Rebekah likes the school; Adam, asked how much of the land is polluted, replies 'About three-quarters'; Ryan on the local environment: 'Some of it's pleasant and some of it's unpleasant'. Charlotte gets heated about those who drop litter near the school - 'They're too lazy, and they feel that they're big because they're throwing litter on the floor and are making our environment dirty and messy and horrible. They wouldn't like it if it was their gardens'. Chabu insists that children shouldn't be lazy and should pick their litter up.

Rebekah shows us the contrast in an area on the edge of the school grounds where there are both attractive daffodils, but also litter. Chabu shows us the large road next to the school - 'All you can hear is the cars that are passing by'.

Adam in another corner of the school field: 'I don't like this very much. It's got no daffodils and all this rubbish'. Anna reads a poem against people who drop litter ('Only plants and flowers cheer us up / People shouldn't be allowed to mess it up'). Ryan reads his poem, which ends, 'Keep the school environment free / So I can grow like our trees'.

Anna: 'We've got our letters from the Council at last. Here's mine'. The letter explains that the Council does not own the land, but outlines some ideas about what they might like to see it used for, agreeing in vague terms with some of the children's suggestions.

Chabu explains that the group have decided that they would like the site to be used for 'a community centre for old people, disabled people and homeless people'. Charlotte outlines the ideas of an all-night canteen for homeless people, TV and bingo for the elderly people, and sports 'like netball, basketball and hockey' for the disabled people; 'and they will be a youth club for youths'. Rebekah proposes a possible floor plan for the centre.

The children sing a song (which they had learned previously in school) about pollution, accompanied by relevant shots from the school grounds, and then the end titles.

The text and images on this site are by David Gauntlett, © 1997, 2004.
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