From 14-22 October in England, Wales & Northern Ireland and 28 October-5 November in Scotland, National Schools Film Week will give school children all over the country the opportunity to watch movies in the cinema free of charge. The festival, organised by Film Education, aims to offer pupils an opportunity to study film in a setting that is completely different to the normal classroom environment, often supplemented with discussions from film experts.

Last year over 400,000 students and teachers from both primary and secondary schools attended the festival, which will be celebrating its 15th year in 2010.

The films shown can be quite different to the usual fare served up in multiplexes. The programme ranges from recent releases to classics of cinema with some offbeat choices thrown in for good measure. The aim of the festival is to showcase cinema from all over the world and provide students with a much broader range of films than they might normally have access to.

This year, primary school students can look forward to such cinematic gems as Hayao Miyazaki’s delightful Ponyo and Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox or they could be transported to other worlds in films like Inkheart and Prince Caspian.

For secondary students the selection ranges from issues based films such as Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story and the autobiographical Persepolis to fantasies like Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s hyper-quirky Mic Macs and Guillermo del Toro’s grown-up fairytale Pan’s Labyrinth. Serious discussion is all but guaranteed in the emotive and divisive Gran Torino and Fish Tank as well as the Scandinavian vampire film Let the Right One In. The week also gives students the opportunity to see classic films where they were intended, on the big screen and not relegated to classroom excerpts; Lindsay Anderson’s This Sporting Life, Francois Truffaut’s Jules et Jim and Jean-Luc Godard’s A bout de souffle are among those showing this year. A diverse range for study.

In addition, students can also have the chance to meet experts, lecturers and critics at a number of special screenings. These events range from introductions to the films to post-screening discussions and provide an opportunity for students to engage with industry professionals. The NSFW website offers a whole range of online study resources to complement the screenings, from information about the films themselves to more generic material that fits in with curriculum requirements.

All teachers need to do to take part is book a screening at the NSFW website and then head for the local cinema with their students.