VIDEO: FPJS End of Term – 21 July 2016


A year has passed since I left Furze Platt Junior School at the end of my gap-year spent working there as a teaching assistant. Though I found it hard to leave, it was comforting to know that I would be able to keep in contact with former colleagues via Facebook. What was far harder was knowing that, in all probability, my contact with the children had been severed.

Happily, a couple of weeks ago, I was asked back to produce an end-of-term staff video. As with 2015’s, it would be shown at the close of the Leavers’ assembly – a final, upbeat film, to send out the pupils and their gathered parents.

This year’s leavers, the class of 2016, were last year ‘my’ Year 5s. I loved watching them grow and mature from the little people whom I met on my first day, and seeing them again today – as the confident “young adults” that they have become – was my reward for doing this film.

After this morning’s assembly, it was such a thrill to find myself surrounded by them: queuing for felt-tip messages in their dictionaries, yearbooks, and on their uniforms. They are a delightful, very happy group of children. And with good reason — their school, with its superb staff and friendly ethos, has set them in excellent stead for the world ahead.

Production for this year’s closing video began on Monday, when I arrived at the school at 3:20pm. Anna Clark, the deputy head, had chosen Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop The Feeling!, which I was a lot more enthusiastic about than the thumping house track Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat we used last year.

By special request, I filmed my fellow Year 5 staff first, and then went back to the main hall where, I had been told, the staff would partake in a Lycra-clad dance class. Worryingly, only five teachers had arrived by 3:30pm, and despite the brash costumes an air of reluctance hung in the air.

Safety came in numbers, though, and soon the hall was filled with a score of ‘good sports’. Professional dance choreographer Amy Opalko gave a high-speed masterclass in a routine she’d devised, although some of the best moments came when individual staff members broke out with freestyle moves.

I had to work fast to get the shots I wanted, as the soaring heat – which was exceeding 30ºC, on the hottest day of the year – tired our ‘stars’ fast. By 4:30pm they were finally released, leaving just the opening and some filler-shots to get.

Lycra-clad staff at Furze Platt Junior School.

Puffed-out staff at Furze Platt Junior School smile for a group photograph at the end of an exhausting dance class – all part of the end-of-term video.

Mike Wallace, the zestful headteacher, patiently allowed me multiple takes of his miming the opening verse. He initially struggled to remember the somewhat incomprehensible lyrics, but through a system of Anna reading the lines off-camera, he became word-perfect. Regrettably, the light shining directly through his office window completely backlit him, so we had to reshoot this sequence the next day.

Anna was a complete natural, with dance flowing out of her as we tracked back through the staffroom corridor. Following their key role last year, the office staff were similarly game, and we filmed their section in a rare quiet moment at the front desk.

I edited as I went, making it easy to identify the last few timeline gaps that needed filling. We recorded teaching assistants, playground staff, and anybody who had been absent from the Monday afternoon session during the following lunchtime.

I showed a couple of rough bits to a couple of people in advance, but the finished version was not seen in full until this morning’s assembly. It was wonderful to see the children reacting to the surreal sight of their teachers dancing, and I received many kind words from parents in the courtyard afterwards.

I am very pleased to have been able to attend today’s send-off for Year 6, and wish them all the very best of luck for the next chapter in their education.

Andrew Burdett

Andrew Burdett is a twenty-something from Maidenhead in Berkshire, working for ITV News.