Our AoC Beacon Award winner - Grimsby Institute ESTV

What the initiative is

ESTV Estuary Student TV (ESTV) is a Media Curriculum Delivery Model

What makes it unique

We took learning outside of the classroom. We stopped calling the specification a “course” and we stopped having “students” and “staff”. We started interviewing for an in house production company that earnt people a qualification. We interviewed crew, and they were interviewed by Production Managers. The induction was to get the new workforce branded like industry and briefed like industry, to be ready 24/7 to cover news stories as work came in.

Behind the scenes, we worked closely with employers to develop programmes which are designed with input from industry specialists and supported by LMI data. We sought commissions for live projects until they started to come directly to us. We ensured that we were working with current industry equipment and trends, for example producing material to be viewed on phones rather than TVs. We ensured we were on trend, had our finger on the pulse of industry and were training the next generation of industry, constantly revising and reflecting as the industry changed. Employer ready soft skills were built in from the very start. Our ESTV crew were treated as employees shadowing a Channel Manager on external jobs. A display of exceptional professional behaviour earned the trust to become a project lead or assigned editor, and within a year, our first ESTV workforce graduated ready to enter industry with all of the technical and personal skills they needed with some of the highest achievement rates in the country to boot.

Challenges and opportunities

There was an initial start-up cost for a Channel Manager who is not attached to curriculum delivery and so is able to work responsively as media requests come in, and manage the quality of outputting work. There was also the need to create a website to host the work and identify a production office. As reputation grew and commissions / bids began to come in on the strength of the quality of the work being produced, the income for these began to offset the project costs. The opportunities for students to market their college and produce material to facilitate online learning and marketing material (both film and photo) self-sufficiently is a great opportunity for the college to maximise on. Crucially, not only does this make financial sense but students know how to produce material that speaks to fellow students.

Benefits to students, college and wider community (including employers)

The age old issue of a student needing experience to secure a job, but only by having a job giving them the required experience is long gone with this model. ESTV gives students the opportunity to build up their portfolio of experience to enable progression straight into industry work upon the completion of their studies. We were particularly proud to be involved in editing the footage of Prince Harry’s visit for Coca Cola’s charity ‘Street Games’ for their new campaign ‘fit and fed’, which aims to help young people stay active and well-nourished during school holidays. This along with commissions for Melinda Messenger and Kevin Clifton with Strictly Come Dancing’s Theatre Company and airings on Malta TV are testament to the quality of work produced in and out of the UK by ESTV. Students have gone on to work at Glastonbury, to work with the Spice Girls, and on the show Come Dine with Me.

ESTV is an integral part of the community and has grown from shadowing and working alongside established external production companies to working and running events in their own right both locally and now nationally and internationally.

For a progressive modern thinking college, it is a sensible work model. The use of social media and video is only going one way. The same as HR, Finance and Marketing, ESTV provide a vital service by producing the video content and social media material that the college requires whilst providing material to achieve qualifications alongside. It simply makes sense to employ the student crew.

Alongside producing films and covering events for marketing purposes, ESTV have also worked collaboratively to produce online learning materials, which have contributed to the college being self-sufficient in this field whilst contributing to ongoing College cost saving strategies and external bids and communications and presentations. During  lockdown,  ESTV has been vial to facilitate online learning and communication material and has really come into it’s own.

What impact winning the Beacon Award has or will have

At the Grimsby Institute we are always committed to sharing good practice. We work in this sector as we want to provide the best possible student experience for learners. That doesn’t stop at Grimsby. Like most professionals, our commitment is to all students. Winning the Beacon Award enables other sector colleagues to see the model we have introduced and see which parts of it might work for them to benefit their students. If the ESTV model can help more students, that is fantastic news for us.

How could another college replicate this approach – including one “top tip”

Rebrand. Define your production company with a name that links to the locality. My top tip? - if you have a brand, you have a product to sell. With that set, induct new students as you would employ videographers to your marketing department. That is a great start. Then seek video work that needs to be produced within the college or with local employers. Set that as coursework rather than simulated projects. It can grow from there.

Who to contact for more information

Emma Forrest-Leigh, Associate Principal, Grimsby Institute forrestleighe@grimsby.ac.uk

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