Harnessing BBC brands to inspire learning: the Wallace and Gromit soundtrack competition

Executive Producer, BBC Learning

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For the last two years, BBC Learning has run a competition for children to write a mini episode of Doctor Who. The prize was one that money can’t buy: the winning script was performed by the eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, filmed on the TARDIS by the Doctor Who production team, and broadcast on national TV. You can watch the finished film below. 

This is an exclusive mini episode of Doctor Who, written by three pupils from Wilmslow who won the 2012 'Script to Screen' competition. Starring Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and the Weeping Angels, the mini episode was inspired by the Olympic Games.

Talk about writing for a purpose. The take up was fantastic. Tens of thousands of pupils from more than a thousand schools across the country took part. Children described it as the highlight of their school year. 96% of those we surveyed said that the competition was a very good tool for teaching literacy and writing skills.

One of the reasons we wanted to run this competition was to try to motivate some of the more reluctant writers. As Chair of Governors in a Manchester primary school, I had observed first hand the way boys in particular were becoming increasingly reluctant to write by the time they got to year 5 or 6.

Could the power of the Doctor help make writing cool? Teachers were conclusive. One told us 'The boys are sometimes hard to motivate, and they absolutely loved it. It motivated kids that usually found literacy a bit of a struggle. The Doctor Who element meant they were all working with a genre they understood and enjoyed. It was priceless.’

Doctor Who Script to Screen embodied the new strategy for BBC Learning: to harness the power of the BBC’s big brands to inspire learning.

Our latest venture is a competition for primary-aged children to write a sound track for Wallace and Gromit. Inspired by this Summer’s delightful BBC Wallace and Gromit Prom, the challenge is for teams of children to compose the music to accompany a clip of the dynamic duo.

As with Doctor Who Script to Screen, BBC Learning has developed a range of resources to help the creative process. These include printable storyboards and a composer’s notebook. We’ve also produced a series of films, 'Compose Yourself', which show how to make music, even if you can’t play a musical instrument, using found sounds and even rubbish.

As music education starts to focus on participation and making music, we want to inspire children’s creativity, and given them the chance to win another money can’t buy prize. The winning entries will be recorded by the BBC and broadcast on Blue Peter. Winning teams will also get to visit the amazing Aardman Animations studio in Bristol. 

We hope that the competition will help unleash more creative talent in our primary schools. In the meantime, we’d welcome any suggestions on the next big creative adventure involving a BBC brand!

Katy Jones is Executive Producer, BBC Learning


Further information on how to enter, downloadable notes for teachers and video sequences can be found on the Wallace and Gromit Soundtrack Competition website. 

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