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About Our Project

In this project we wanted to explore some of the issues around migration as a global, national and local phenomenon. However, we were also keen to do something a little different. In our project we wanted to explore migration more holistically. As well as the geo-political features of migration that are routinely (and in our view, narrowly) rehearsed in media reporting, we wanted to explore the deeper human experience for all concerned. How have we been affected by migration in our own family histories and how might these illuminate the migrant experience and the enduring legacy of migration in our local area? 


Migration is a defining feature of the modern world but it exists between and within countries. The notion of wanting to, seeking to or being forced to ‘move’ is within all our family histories! 


Many media representations position migrants as a problem. Even in its more ‘liberal’ forms, media representations tend to distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ migrants. 


In contrast, we have a view of migration that is more complex and nuanced. We do not want to simply reject some of the associated challenges that migration brings for those that migrate and the communities that they end up in. 


In this project each media trainee was given a phase of the migration story to stimulate their own creative audio-visual response. Initially, these were the briefs from which trainees chose a phase. 


1) Home – this explores attitudes and emotions of a migrant’s original home. The reasons for leaving and the mixed feelings about having to leave. 

2) Journey – this concerns the actual processes involved in moving. 

3) Arrival – this captures the last stage of the journey and the sense of excitement/fear/isolation and includes initial impressions of a new home 

4) Learning – this identifies the things that have to learnt to assimilate: language, cultural practices and the challenges this presents in communicating with others 

5) Community – this offers the host community’s view of new migrants and their impact on them 

6) Family - this reminds us of the sacrifices that migrants make for future generations.

7) Legacy – this celebrates the enduring impact of migration on a family, community or indeed the nation 


Although we are media trainees, we were keen to explore cross-curricular links so the responses incorporate the range of skills and knowledge that we have. Some of us wrote poems, created art, interviewed people, and improvised some drama. We used our media knowledge and skills to research, network, collaborate, shoot and edit our video pieces. What we have is the starting point 

for an honest conversation about migration so please do feel free to give us some feedback.







Dr Keith Perera

Lead Tutor PGCE Media Studies

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Open Hearts Open Borders: Behind The Scenes

Open Hearts Open Borders: Behind The Scenes

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This explores attitudes and emotions of a migrant's original home. The reasons for leaving and the mixed feelings about having to leave.

Ashley Hicks


Globally, the island of Ireland is generally depicted as a place of interest, tranquillity and happiness, however, this isn’t entirely an accurate representation, nor has its past been overly triumphant. Similarly, to many other countries, emigration has massively influenced Irish history. As a Northern Irish citizen, I felt it was my responsibility to share my knowledge about the Great Irish Potato Famine 1845 – 1849, surprisingly, a chilling topic not taught as part of the National Curriculum.

For my documentary structure, I wanted to respond creatively to the brief and therefore employed my artistic skills to draw and shoot film footage to coincide with my own Irish migration poem. My focus was on home, exploring the original home of an Irish migrant, sharing their reasons for leaving and how they felt knowing that leaving their home was their only means of survival. Likewise, I wanted to examine the theme of innocence by demonstrating the negative effects that poverty and migration has on children.


Finally, in terms of cross-curricular learning, my project works with other subjects such as History and Art. At KS3, pupils studying History should develop the knowledge and understanding of British, local and world history. Pupils need to identify key events in history, make comparisons and analyse trends within periods and over long arcs of time. To assist pupils in understanding the long arc of development, they should be taught about ideas, political power, industry and the empire: Britain (1745 - 1901) with Ireland is one example suggested by the National Curriculum.

In relation to Art and Design, pupils at KS3 are taught to develop their creativity by using a range of art materials (for example charcoal) and recording their constructions in sketchbooks. Pupils are expected to study the History of Art, including periods, styles and movements from ancient times up to the present day.

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This concerns the actual processes involved in moving.


Chloe Homewood


My idea arose from watching a video of a Syrian girl, Rania, documenting her journey from Syria to Europe to escape the terrible living conditions and danger that she was facing everyday. In the video she states 'I want a future' which reminded me of myself as I embark on the journey of teacher training. Therefore, my video focuses on the idea of embarking on a journey for your own future. 

Coldplay (at the time of planning) had just released a new album - very personal to them. I was watching an interview with the lead singer Chris Martin and he spoke about a song in the album 'Orphans'. He told the interviewer that this song derived from his feelings and thoughts about the Syria Bombings in April 2018. He said 'I was thinking so much about kids in refugee camps who are just like us... people being labelled as just migrants or just refugees or just immigrants - when really they are human people like everyone else'.

My video has cross-curricular links with Geography. In KS3 Geography students have to study the Middle East, therefore many schools choose Syria as their case study focusing on migration and the challenges faced by refugees. This case study explores why Syrians are leaving Syria, why so many have gone to Turkey (and other European countries), the obstacles that refugees face but also the challenges faced in the destination country. My video shows glimpses of why Syrians are leaving and the challenges they face on their journey.

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This captures the last stage of the journey and the sense of excitements/fear/isolation and includes initial impressions of a new home.

James Royce-Dawson


“Arrival” is an original haiku which uses the metaphor of pebbles washing up on a beach to convey the struggle of immigrants and refugees entering new countries. The background music is a piano cover of “Auslander” by the German band Rammstein. Combining this with the Japanese haiku format helps to support a message of how diversity and cultural exchange enhances host nations. The footage used is of various immigrants and refugees arriving in western countries and adapting to life despite prejudice and rejection. My hope with this video is to show that host communities that rejecting these people would be pointless due to the inevitable push/pull factors that bring them and the fact that they often bring a great deal of experience and energy to their new home.


As this is an original haiku, it would fit well in a cross curricular activity with English Literature classes where a large module is focused on poetry of other cultures. It would also serve to promote creative writing in young poets to consider metaphor and personification in their own writing.

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This identifies the things that have to be learnt to assimilate: language, cultural practices and the challenges this presents in communicating with others.

Ben Golding


My idea encompasses the responsibility of teachers/schools to understand some the history of the migrant groups they serve to better support their learning and achievement. I was inspired by my mum’s life as a teaching assistant, and how she had learned about the Chagossian community through her role in education. It is my hope that learning about the cultures outside of classrooms can demonstrate the value of both the arts and communication to our curriculum.

Indeed, I believe my focus on the Chagossian community could extend to other subjects, particularly Music. With Key Stage 3 study inviting students to "perform, listen to, review and evaluate music across a range of historical periods, genres, styles and traditions", it seems fitting that they should be able to interact with cultural traditions of Chagos, particularly their traditional 'sega' music. Recognised by UNESCO as 'intangible cultural heritage', interacting with the 'tambour' instrument, composing lyrics, and understanding the generational legacies associated with 'sega' provides a rich and diverse approach to enliven students' study of music beyond simple notation.

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This offers the host community's view of new migrants and their impact on them.

Steve Humphreys


I decided to create a video for Open Hearts and Open Borders  in order to explore how others, such as my partner, move from their home countries to begin a new journey within the English educational system. I wanted to share with others my partners personal story on what drew him to come to Britain, from Madrid, Spain. I also wanted him to focus on what aspects of British Life and British culture resonate with him.


In regards to cross-curricular subjects, this video can tie in with the study of Modern Foreign Languages as my partner is able to discuss the differences between Spanish culture and British culture and what makes it unique. He is also a trained teacher of Spanish and has worked not only in British universities as a lecturer in Spanish, but also as a Spanish Language and Literature teacher within Spanish secondary schools.

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This reminds us of the sacrifices that migrants make for future generations.


Georgie Cross


When we were set the task of creating a piece for Open Hearts Open Borders, we spent time discussing our own families and the journeys that some of them had been on. We noticed that we all had family members that had migrated to try and improve, not only their own lives, but also the future of their families. As we were discussing this, I couldn’t help but think about the mix of emotions a migrant might feel as their families grow and develop in a new country. I decided to focus on the hardships that our relatives may have faced to give us the lives that we live now and the impact that their migration had on the whole family.

We wanted to make our project cross-curricular, so I decided to incorporate some Drama. Drama is a powerful vehicle to understand characters and their motivations. Although, Drama is not in the National Curriculum, at Key Stage 4 there is a need to explore 'how meaning is interpreted and communicated through:  performance conventions, use of performance space and spatial relationships on stage, relationships between performers and audience. I am not a drama expert but I asked some of the other Media trainees to act in the first section of my video this also gave me the opportunity to direct my actors to create the desired dramatic effect

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This celebrates the enduring impact of migration on a  family, community or indeed the nation.

Fazial Nor-Izham


I developed my ideas for my piece by first observing people in general and trying to establish what exactly makes people “British”. 21st-century Britain is very much a diverse and multicultural society, comprising people of various backgrounds and ethnicities, and so my aim was to investigate the cultural backgrounds of individual Media students in our PGCE group. In doing so, I discovered only a couple were purely “British” by descent and that the rest comprised of Irish, French, German and Scottish backgrounds. Regardless of their cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds, these people are still very much considered “British”.

This is still very much a crucial point to remember in the Brexit era - that race and ethnicity alone does not determine an individual’s character, intellect, personality or even identity. Identity is multifaceted and some of our genetic and cultural influences need to be rediscovered to present is the result of migrations to and from Britian.  We must remember that tolerance and openness are still very much crucial British values that need to be preserved.

In interviewing them for my video piece, I asked the other students about their respective cultural backgrounds and what exactly motivated their forefathers to want to migrate to the UK in search of a better life. Some were facing persecution, disease, war or discrimination in their native lands and thus wished to seek greener pastures elsewhere. Their individual stories were indeed fascinating. I went about asking them interview questions relating to these topics and themes and then filmed them answering them. The resulting interview footage is a crucial reminder to the viewer that appearances can indeed be deceiving, and that Britain is indeed a lot more multicultural than we often think - and better off for it as a result.

From a cross-curricular perspective, some of the students’ stories can be related to Religious Education. For example, one of the students, who is Irish by descent, described the religious conflict in Northern Ireland which prompted her family to migrate. Another student of originally-German descent described how his grandparents needed to flee from Nazi Germany and settle elsewhere, despite the possible existential threat of facing discrimination in Britain for being German. These are indeed reminders that openness and tolerance are values that always need to be preserved in British society, and that people of various cultural backgrounds can always offer so much to the country - not just in terms of building the economy but also in terms of cultural enrichment.

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