News & Events

Compass Film and Animation Workshops

The experiential nature of the creative imagining of a narrative and depiction of the story arc using digital technology results in increased technical and production skills for the students involved


Since 2010, The University of Sydney’s Compass – your way to higher education program (Compass) has been delivering Film Production and Stop Motion Animation (FPSMA) workshops with partner schools. The programs deliver highly engaging workshops that reinforce communication, team work, problem solving, creativity, literacy and digital literacy skills. FPSMA sits within the Compass program, which seeks to address the under-representation in higher education of students from LSES backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and regional students.


  • The University of Sydney
    >>Sydney College of the Arts
    >>Faculty of Education and Social Work
    >>Sydney Medical School
  • Souths Cares
  • Centipede (Out Of School Hours Care)
  • 25 metropolitan and regional NSW primary and secondary schools.

FPSMA workshops are two of a suite of 28 projects delivered in Compass partner schools. Projects are developed with schools using principles of community development to ensure that content is relevant, aligns with key learning areas in the curriculum, meet school plan outcomes and provide learning enrichment in areas identified by the school community.

The accessibility of digital media has made the FPSMA workshops highly relevant across a number of disciplines, and suitable to help meet the Australian Curriculum outcomes, including the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) continuum and the Critical and Creative Thinking continuum.

Working with academics and project staff ensure that meaningful links between interests and future options in higher education are reinforced. Teaching and learning capacity in literacy is also supported through creative imagining of a narrative, adoption of story arc conventions and associative connections between visual and written communication methodologies.

FPSMA comprises professional development, six eight-week school-based workshops, and an on-campus premiere event. These components work to increase teacher capacity and practical skills in technology and its use in curriculum, support key learning area outcomes, and build links to higher education.

In-school coordinators and teachers attend a professional development day prior to delivering the course to produce their own film or animation. The professional development reflects the school-based workshops, ensuring teachers understand the format and technology required, as well as promoting an exchange of ideas on embedding the use of film and digital technologies into the curriculum.

The school-based workshops with the students guarantee ongoing interaction with university staff and students, who provide regular technical and academic support. The versatility of the workshop content provides relevance to a range of key learning areas for both primary and high school curricula.

Since 2010, over 1,650 students and 200 teachers across 25 schools have participated in Compass’ FPSMA workshops. The program culminates in an end-of-year showcase, where all schools are invited on-campus for a ‘red carpet’ film premiere. This visit reinforces a tertiary point of reference and provides another opportunity for students to forge links with the university.

Schools buy their own equipment as part of their contribution to the program and after the first year, ‘veteran’ teachers run the project independently, with the option of a consultative model which provides three touch-points with an academic to support them.

The program is also implemented in community-based settings with Souths Cares and Centipede, run through the Faculty of Education and Social Work, to engage young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary and high school students.

The experiential nature of the program results in increased technical and production skills for the students involved. The collaborative nature of the film projects also builds significant team work skills.

Qualitative feedback from students and staff reflect success in achieving these outcomes:

“The students are highly engaged with the project and very motivated to get the work done. Every student has a role and the benefits for group work and team building are huge.” – secondary school teacher.

In addition, some teachers expressed pleasure that they have also seen their own skills develop:

“I was never really that confident in teaching the creative arts, and particularly film and video production. [However] I have now developed two integrated themes for my students […] previously that just wouldn’t have been possible.” – primary school teacher.

Compass builds cumulative impact and includes programs to enhance educational outcomes, increase understanding of the value of higher education, and promote students’ educational confidence. This is achieved through partnerships with school communities, non-government organisations, intra-university partners and inter-university collaborations. In 2011, MOUs were signed with our school and community partners to bring together our shared vision to achieve these outcomes. Schools can tailor the elements or activities of the program that best suit their particular circumstances.

The partnership works as a result of the following factors:

  • consultation meetings with schools are held towards the end of each year, allowing time for schools to embed Compass projects in school planning direct links to key learning areas, curriculum outcomes and school goals
  • focus on professional development as a foundation for program sustainability
  • flexible modes of delivery support schools at differing stages
  • coordinators and designated teachers are assigned in each school to ensure ownership, direction and support of the program
  • activities are not delivered as one-off events; each activity is scaffolded with either pre- and post-engagement, or are delivered as place-based projects running up to eight weeks
  • clear roles and responsibilities are assigned to both Compass and school staff
  • ongoing evaluation occurs both internally and via external evaluators to ensure constant monitoring and improvement of projects.

FPSMA continues to be a highly valued program in Compass partner schools. As grant funding finishes, new sources of funding are being investigated to ensure the longevity of the program. A school-contribution model will be trialled to supplement existing funds. As a long-term sustainability strategy, Compass will work with the Sydney College of Arts and the Faculty of Education and Social Work to develop either a service learning opportunity for pre-service teachers to deliver these workshops in schools, or a volunteer option for experienced university students to run the workshops.

Image depicting four types of partnerships. All four types are highlighted.

This case study is one of a series of 31 presented in our case study publication, Partnerships in Higher Education.

Posted 2 June 2015 Posted in General, Indigenous, Low SES