Cary Bazalgette

From Telemedium, The Journal of Media Literacy

Vol 57, No 1&2. Published 2010

Cary Bazalgette [& Idit Harel Caperton] Receives the 2010 Jessie McCanse Award
for Individual Contribution to Media Literacy

In a year when the The Journal of Media Literacy seeks to bridge the ideas of School 2.0 with a global perspective, we at the National Telemedia Council are honored to present our cherished Jessie McCanse Award for Individual Contribution to Media Literacy to two leaders who are at the forefront of building 21st Century media education—Cary Bazalgette, pioneering educator, author,  researcher and voice of the British Film Institute’s Education Initiatives for many years—and Dr. Idit Harel Caperton, visionary researcher, entrepreneur, and innovator of new-media learning projects.

Cary Bazalgette

Noted pioneering British media educator, Cary has a distinguished career as a champion for the young child. She has a long history of bringing media education into the primary grades through the many faceted medium of film. Believing in the importance of media education as “an entitlement for all learners,” she dedicated her career to institutionalizing this concept through her work with the British Film Institute (BFI) and into the British educational system. Cary continues to challenge herself and inspire others in developing the new, rigorous educational approaches that are imperative for today’s children.

Beginning as a classroom teacher, creating and innovating her own materials, Cary became involved with the BFI where over almost three decades, she researched and developed curricula, criteria and standards, and teacher workshops, and was eventually named BFI’s Head of Education. Cary’s impressive contributions attest to her passion for teaching and learning. Her most recent publication, Teaching Media in Primary Schools, (2010, Sage) is reviewed in this issue of JML. Over the years, she has published a long and varied collection that includes policy, pedagogy, and practice, beginning with BFI’s Primary Media Education Curriculum Statement in 1989. Most recently, Cary has been actively instrumental in the creation of the Media Education Association in the UK, and is currently its Chair. Together with David Buckingham, she is co-director of the Media Literacy Conference 2010. She is a member of the European Commission’s Media Literacy Experts Group, a Fellow of the RSA, and a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Education, University of London.

In the spirit of Jessie McCanse, Cary is a charismatic, passionate, and powerful advocate for media education. She champions fairness, high standards of excellence, and innovation. She has long been a mentor for others, a collaborator on many levels, always working toward building bridges between the classroom and the 21st Century.


Cary Reminisces...

I started to try and teach about film in the late 1960s when I was a young and inexperienced teacher in a tough South-East London girls’ school (and anyone who thinks girls aren’t as challenging as boys should try teaching them). I soon found that there were others trying to do the same and that in London, teachers could get short films and classic film extracts on free loan from the British Film Institute. Soon I was on the editorial board of Screen Education magazine and attending BFI Summer Schools.

In 1979 after teaching for several years and having two children, I started work as an Education Officer at the BFI, creating teaching materials on image analysis, TV and film, and providing short courses for teachers in media education. In the early 1980s, when for a while it looked as though media education might get taken seriously by Government, it began to be clear to me that it made no sense to accept a marginal role for media education: it ought to be an entitlement for everyone.

It was exciting to work with others to try and define what media education might look like if it were to be embedded in the curriculum for all 5 – 14-year-olds as well as being offered as specialist courses for older students. But it was also a huge challenge to try and engage with politicians and with education policies that were becoming ever more centralised and authoritarian. In such a context, it was equally difficult to get media educators to look outside their own sectors and institutions, to think about bigger, more long-term issues such as learning progression, and to focus on learners rather than on departmental or subject interests.

There are some things I’ve done—or, more often, helped to do—over the last 30 years that I’m pleased with. The Primary Media Education Curriculum Statement in 1989; the first global conference on media education in Toulouse in 1990; the BFI/OU distance learning course on media education in 1992; the Commission of Inquiry into English in 1993; the Making Movies Matter report in 1999; the Reframing Literacy project at the BFI, 2001-2007; and of course the book I’ve just edited with 12 contributions from wise and brilliant colleagues: Teaching Media in Primary Schools (Sage).

There are lots of regrets too though, and I tend not to look back much. It’s a real pleasure now to be part of the Media Education Association, a community of media education professionals which may be small and poor, but which is at least independent and does not have to toe anybody else’s policy line. Our new web site,, should become a focus for information-seekers and debate, and what I hope will become our regular annual conference, starting this year with MLC2010, will be not only a forum for new encounters and ideas, but will also raise the profile of media education in the public sphere.