WISE Accelerator

Doc Academy

Activity: Developing critical and independent thinking in young people using the power of documentary films as a stimulus for learning and debate.

Name of the Organization: Doc Academy

Headquarter: London, United Kingdom

Geographical reach: United Kingdom

Number of beneficiaries: over 2,500 registered users and more than 1,400 schools

Project Representative: Ms Jo Harding

Websites: https://docacademy.org/

WISE Accelerator Project: Doc Academy

About the Project

Doc Academy is an education program that aims to develop critical and independent thinking in young people and bring to life some of today’s more complex and challenging social issues. Using the power of documentary film as a stimulus for learning and debate, Doc Academy is designed to help teachers and students think about the world, society, and their place in it.

Context and Issue

Young people’s concerns are big and complex. Climate change, racism, war, the world refugee crisis - these are worrying subjects they want to discuss. Talking about these big concerns, exploring through formal learning and in an unrestricted way has been found to be directly beneficial, impacting young people’s own wellbeing, and their potential and efficacy. Introducing challenging subjects from varying perspectives and with neutrality develops students’ capacity for independent and critical thinking, empathy, understanding and responsibility.

Demands on teachers are high, with immense pressure to meet targets as well as safeguard students. Issues that were previously discussed in the safety of the classroom are increasingly side lined or shut down.

The Solution and Impact

Doc Academy helps to create that essential space by providing free, high-quality resources and embedding these kinds of issues within core curriculum subjects. The online platform provides a curated selection of film clips from internationally recognised documentary films and teacher-written lesson plans that meet national curriculum objectives. It’s free and easy to use, and is accessible to the broadest constituency of schools at the secondary level. The clips equip students with the skills and understanding to question, challenge and think independently.

As education becomes ever more virtual, a project that brings real-life into the classroom, and supports real interaction and conversation between teachers and students, is critical.

Future Developments

Main development plans include piloting Key Stage 2 resources, piloting in the United States, and developing a scaling strategy for Kenya.