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What is the legal situation when showing DVDs to primary school children?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Mr_Ed, Nov 28, 2019.

  1. Mr_Ed

    Mr_Ed Established commenter

    I recently decided that a favourite film of mine would enhance the learning of a Year 5 class I cover on a regular basis (PPA time). It is PG rated. However, even though the BBFC website states: “PG - General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children. A PG film should not unsettle a child aged around eight or older. Unaccompanied children of any age may watch, but parents are advised to consider whether the content may upset younger, or more sensitive children.” when I let my SLT know of my idea, I was told that we must get parental consent first.

    What is the exact legal situation, does anyone know?

    When I trained to be a teacher (1990s) lecture 1 was all about the concept of 'in loco parentis' where in the UK the teacher is acting in the place of the parent during school hours. Has this changed? Have I missed the memo? because if 'in loco parentis' exists and PG means parental guidance, why must we defer to the parents, before the DVD is shown?
  2. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    Hmm. I'd have thought that PG was fine for Y5 based on the BBFC guidelines. It might be worth though just getting parental consent if you can do it on an "opt out" basis, where you assume consent unless the parents choose to withdraw.
    Sally006, jlishman2158 and Jesmond12 like this.
  3. sidekick125

    sidekick125 New commenter

    When I was in the U.K, we would start each school year with a letter to parents requesting permission to show PG films to students to enhance their learning when appropriate. This letter would also ask permission to give students snacks as treats and whether they have any additional allergies that the school are unaware of. That always covered us for anything.
  4. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    We've always asked for parental consent when showing Year 6 anything with a PG certificate. It just covers you.
  5. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    If the film is a cinema released film (not a BBC or other educational programme), surely copywright considerations stop one showing it to pupils?
  6. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    As far as I know, 'in loco parentis' is 19th Century English Civil Law. The relevant legislation, today, is 'duty of care' as outlined in the Children Act:


    There is also, of course, legislation restricting the showing of DVDs within schools. I believe there are some exemptions for showing educational films but, the last time I checked, I was surprised at how much logging, and reporting, had to be done even after a fee had been paid to the relevant copyright organisation.

    It's possible that regulations have changed since I last investigated this matter and, if so, I'm sure others will correct me.

    As to obtaining parental permission to show PG films, perhaps that's best done at the start of the school year along with such things as taking photos of a class project, educational outing, etc.
  7. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Was that in a state school or private?

    For some years now the DfE has bought a national licence for all schools in England enabling them to do all sorts of things that they would otherwise have had to pay a copyright fee for, including showing films on DVD. Details here


    The licence only covers state schools. Private schools still have to buy their own licences.
  8. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    From BBFC website:
    The BBFC's cinema age ratings only apply to films shown in licensed cinemas. If you are taking a school group to the cinema for a standard screening where you are paying to view the film, the normal rules and laws apply. You may not take a 14-year-old to see a 15-rated film or a 16-year-old to see an 18-rated film.

    The age rating for a DVD, video or Blu-ray explains which audience we believe the film is suitable for, and applies to point of sale or rental rather than to where the material is viewed. It is not actually illegal for schools to show BBFC-rated videos, DVDs or Blu-rays to its pupils of any age, just as parents may also choose to show any material to children in the home. Merely showing an age-restricted film to underaged persons - or allowing them to see one outside a licensed cinema - is not in itself an offence.

    We would, however, strongly discourage such a practice unless (a) the children in question are close to the age of the rating, and (b) there is a serious educational purpose to showing the recording (eg showing well-known works or educational films such as 15-rated Schindler's List to 14-year-old GCSE students). Even in such cases, schools should seek parental consent prior to showing the film. We would also recommend obtaining the approval of the Head Teacher and Governors. It is vital to make sure that any children watching are not likely to suffer any ill effects as a result of seeing the film.

    Some schools I have worked out send out a form at the start of the year saying that they school may show the children PG rated films if they think it is appropriate to the learning they are doing at the time.

    I think it would be courteous to send a message to parents saying that you are going to watch X film in class and why. That if a parent has concerns or if they would prefer their child not to watch it. to contact you
    strawbs, nomad and Pomza like this.
  9. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    Agree @Stiltskin - letting parents know is courteous and protects you. Our most recent one in year 6 was The boy in the striped pyjamas. Every child was given permission to watch the film.
    nomad, Stiltskin and Pomza like this.
  10. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    Thanks for that clarification. I note, however, that even with the DfE national licence, quarterly reporting is still required.

    "However, all schools will still be required to submit a report on a quarterly basis detailing the films screened in their school."
  11. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    I noticed that, although it's not something the DfE says you have to do, it appears only on the filmbankmedia website not on any of the other licence givers. Rather oddly filmbankmedia and Motion Picture Licensing Company both claim to give licences on behalf of the same Hollywood studios - Disney, Sony Pictures, Paramount, 20th Century Fox etc - but MPLC specifically states that its licence allows "unlimited showings of all works from MPLC’s rightsholders without the need of reporting titles, dates or times of performance." Confusing or what! In practice I've not heard of a school that reported showings of a DVD to filmbankmedia.
  12. BTBAM85

    BTBAM85 New commenter

    I really don't think anyone cares about copyright law, I wouldn't worry. What's gonna happen, gonna get sued for showing Happy Feet to eighteen 7 year olds?
  13. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    We were threatened with it - not Happy Feet, but which film I don't remember - by a parent (albeit some 20 years ago - the law may have changed since).
  14. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    No. Because state-funded schools are licensed to do so, as detailed above...
  15. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    I don't know about Warner Bros. but Disney are very big about going after places that infringe their copyright
  16. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    I would run it past the Head, get parental permission etc. These days one has to cater to statistically the kid with the most sensitive parents to be sure.

    I'm sure my primary showed a 12 (before 12A) back in the Nineties to all of junior 7-11 but different world then.
    CWadd likes this.
  17. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    We only show films that are a U, unless we get parent permission.
    Same in my last two schools.
  18. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    I did a day Supply in one primary school. “Wreck it, Ralph” was banned as a treat.. the other 2 planned DVDs for reward were OK though. (I think they were upper KS2).
  19. Mr_Ed

    Mr_Ed Established commenter

    Many thanks to all who have responded to my original post: some good advice, however.....may I open up the discussion somewhat?

    Most replies e.g. this one:
    suggest one thing, at some point in the last decade or two there has been a real sea-change in Uk education where the schools bow down to the parents too much (in my opinion) and this DVD issue is a small example of that.

    If I want to show a PG film that I know myself is very mild in terms of violence and 'adult' content (it is a very old war film and relevant to their current studies) I really think I should be able to make that decision. Why must we go back to the parents all the time?
    TeacherMan19 likes this.
  20. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    Or maybe just teach a lesson and allow parents to show their children films at home?
    Pomza and caterpillartobutterfly like this.

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