British Board of Film Classification

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Teacher FAQs

Here are some of the frequently asked questions from teachers about the BBFC and our education work.

  1. Can I show my GCSE class Schindler’s List?
  2. Can I show underage material that is part of the criteria for Film Studies?
  3. Why do some video games have different PEGI and BBFC ratings?
  4. Can I have access to old BBFC files and reports?
  5. The information on this site is too old for the students I teach. Do you have any educational resources for younger children?
  6. Is it illegal to order banned or cut films from abroad?
  7. How can I find out if a previously banned film has now been rated uncut in the UK?
  8. Where can I obtain a poster about film classification for my classroom?
  9. Where can I find information about a why a film has been given a particular rating?
  10. How can I find out what was cut from a film?
  11. Where can I find out more about the Into Film Festival and the BBFC events you are hosting?
  12. How do you get a job at the BBFC?
  13. My students would like to do work experience at the BBFC?
  14. I would like to organise a visit from a BBFC Examiner, how can I do that?
  15. One of my students would like to interview an Examiner, is that possible?
  16. Can I bring my class to a BBFC seminar?
  17. Where can I find an overview of recent BBFC decisions?
  18. Where can I find old BBFC press releases?
  19. Can I request a Case Study for a film we are working on?
  20. Can I access any of the research projects funded by the BBFC?
  21. Can I access the BBFC Guidelines?
  22. My PTA would be interested in a talk from an Examiner - do you give talks to parents?


Can I show my GCSE class Schindler’s List?

The age rating decision indicates that the film contains material which the BBFC considers unsuitable for children younger than the age specified. However, there are some cases where it might be considered appropriate to show a film in an educational context where it is properly discussed and presented.

The BBFC's cinema age ratings legally apply only to licensed cinemas, so it is not illegal for schools to show BBFC rated DVDs to its pupils. Merely showing an age restricted work to underage persons - or allowing them to see one - is not in itself an offence. We would however strongly discourage such a practice unless (a), the children in question are only a year or so below the age stated on the certificate, and (b), there is some kind of serious educational purpose to showing the recording (eg showing a 15 rated Macbeth to 14 year old GCSE English students). Even in those cases, we always recommend that the school obtain permission from parents or guardians prior to the screening.

Can I show underage material that is part of the criteria for Film Studies?

The age rating decision indicates that the film contains material which the BBFC considers unsuitable for children younger than the age specified. However, there are some cases where it might be considered appropriate to show a film in an educational context where it is properly discussed and presented. For example, some AS and A2 Media or Film Studies exam syllabuses include 18 rated films.

The BBFC's cinema age ratings legally apply only to licensed cinemas, so it is not illegal for schools to show BBFC rated DVDs to its pupils. Merely showing an age restricted tape to underaged persons - or allowing them to see one - is not in itself an offence. We would however strongly discourage such a practice unless (a), the children in question are only a year or so below the age stated on the certificate, and (b), there is some kind of serious educational purpose to showing the recording

Clearly, schools should seek parental consent prior to the screening. We would also recommend obtaining the approval of the Head Teacher and Governors. It is also important to make sure that any children watching are not likely to suffer any ill effects as a result of seeing the film.

Why do some video games have different PEGI and BBFC ratings?

From 30 July 2012:

With a few exceptions, the responsibility for age rating video games moved to the Video Standards Council (VSC), applying the PEGI system. The BBFC will continue to age rate all games featuring strong pornographic (R18 level) content and ancillary games attached to a wider, primarily linear submission.

The BBFC will also continue to age rate all non-game linear content on a game disc, such as trailers and featurettes.

Video games eligible for age rating by the BBFC are considered under the same Guidelines as films or DVDs.

Before July 2012:

Under the Video Recordings Act (VRA) 1984, most video games are exempt from BBFC age ratings. However, they may lose this exemption - and therefore require a formal BBFC age rating - if they depict, to any significant extent, gross violence against humans or animals, human sexual activity, human urinary or excretory functions or genital organs, or techniques likely to be useful in the commission of offences.

In the early days of video games, the quality of graphics was so low that, even when 'human' or 'animal' characters were depicted, they were unlikely to be realistic enough to be covered by the Act. However, the increasing sophistication of computer graphics means that now a number of games require classification, usually because they contain violence against realistic human figures. In some cases, games may also need to be submitted to the BBFC because they contain non-interactive video elements (eg trailers or film clips) that do not enjoy the same exemption as interactive games.

Games that retain their exemption - for example because they do not feature violence or sex involving realistic human figures - are classified under the PEGI system, a voluntary pan-European rating system.  In the UK the system is administered by the Video Standards Council (VSC), who also advises publishers on whether or not their game requires a formal BBFC classification.

Can I have access to old BBFC files and reports?

We are happy to provide access to BBFC files which are over 20 years old, but this may be subject to a fee as many older files are kept in deep storage. Click here for more information.  You can also also check information on titles on this website, using the search option.

Case Studies written by Examining and Policy staff are available on many films, videos, DVDs and video games.

The information on this site is too old for the students I teach. Do you have any educational resources for younger children?

Our website aimed at children aged seven and over includes resources for use in the classroom and at home, plus information for parents and teachers. Click here

Is it illegal to order banned or cut films from abroad?

The Video Recordings Act (VRA) 1984 makes it illegal to supply any video or DVD within the UK which has not been age rated by the BBFC. There are some exceptions to this (eg educational works or works predominantly concerned with sport, religion and music) but all feature films and most TV programmes issued on DVD must be rated.

Although it is not a Customs offence to import an unrated video or DVD, it must be for your personal use only and the content must not breach the UK law (eg Obscene Publications Acts 1959 and 1964, Protection of Children Act 1978).

You are therefore entitled to purchase unrated videos or DVDs whilst abroad, provided they contain no illegal material and are solely for personal use.

How can I find out if a previously banned film has now been rated uncut in the UK?

Full age rating histories are available on this website. The information dates back to 1912 and notes ratings given and where applicable details cuts made (usually including the length of the cut and a brief indication as to what was removed). It will also include modern age ratings of the same works, noting when a film was resubmitted and how it was rated.

Where can I obtain a free poster about film classification for my classroom?

The BBFC Education team has created a free classroom resource of a large wall poster, with a quick introduction to the BBFC and how we work, plus some useful facts and stats about age ratings and recent decisions. Order here.

Where can I get information about a why a film has been given a particular age rating?

BBFCinsight provides a brief one line description of the key issues in a work (for example warning of strong language in a 15 film), as well as detailed information on the content of all feature films classified since July 2007.

How can I find out what was cut from a film?

Details of all cuts made to works are published on this website. This includes the amount of material removed, a brief description of the content and the usually legal reasons for the cut or cuts.

Where can I find out more about the Into Film Festival and the BBFC events you are hosting?

We will be working with Into Film hosting screenings as part of the first Into Film Festival this year. The festival (formerly known as the National Youth Film Festival) takes place between 4th Nov - 21st Nov 2014. It aims to help educators bring learning to life for 5-19 year olds by inspiring young people to watch, make and understand film in new and creative ways. BBFC Examiners will be introducing screenings for both primary and secondary school audiences. The festival's film screenings and filmmaking workshops have clear learning outcomes - outcomes that support education and personal development, as well as helping to build a lifelong passion for film.

Case Studies have been written for all films that will be introduced by BBFC Examiners. There is also detailed information or BBFCinsight on the films' issues which can be found on this website.

More information about the events and booking places for sessions near you can be found at on the Into Film festival website.

How do you get a job at the BBFC?

Recruitment is through advertisement in the national press and on this website. The BBFC employs Examiners from a wide variety of backgrounds. A broad knowledge of film or digital media is required, as well as an ability to grasp age ratings issues such as violence, imitable behaviour, sexual portrayal and drugs.

The BBFC also looks for an understanding of child development and an interest in effects and opinion evidence. The BBFC is unable to employ anyone under the age of 18 because of their possible exposure to age restricted material while working here. A balance is kept between men and women, and Examiners currently range in age from early thirties to late fifties. The BBFC includes Examiners of various ethnic backgrounds, in part to help deal with foreign language films and DVDs, where knowledge of the culture of the country is as important as fluency in the language.

My students would like to do work experience at the BBFC?

Unfortunately, we are unable to offer any work experience or work placement schemes, despite popular demand. This is because of the amount of highly sensitive, unrated and age restricted material found in the building at any one time! Staff at the BBFC undergo extensive training to deal with such material, and are all over 18.

I would like to organise a visit from a BBFC Examiner, how can I do that?

BBFC's Education Officers and Examiners are available for a limited number of student presentations throughout the year and currently host such events throughout the UK at schools, colleges and film festivals.

Given the amount of time and money it takes to organise for an Examiner to visit, we are keen to undertake visits that involve speaking to larger numbers of students. If you would like to request a speaker, please fill in this form.

We also host video conference and Skype sessions, in which Examiners can answer students' questions and discuss films, censorship and classification.  For more information click here.

One of my students would like to interview an Examiner, is that possible?

Yes, time and resources permitting, Examiners are happy to speak to students or answer questions by email. We ask that students search this website and read the Student FAQs first so they don’t ask repeat questions and that questions aren’t simply essay questions set by teachers.

Can I bring my class to a seminar at the BBFC?

Yes, the BBFC runs a number of in-house seminars which can be booked and paid for online. Resources are limited so it is worth booking early. Please read the introduction to seminars and information about the sort of material likely to be discussed before booking and let us know of any special requirements through the booking form.

We also host video conference and Skype sessions, in which Examiners can answer students' questions and discuss films, censorship and classification.  For more information click here.

Where can I find an overview of recent decisions?

The BBFC has an RSS feed on this website, which is also available through Twitter.

The BBFC Annual Reports contain a more detailed overview of recent decisions, and there will be more information about certain works in the BBFC Press Releases.

Where can I find old BBFC Press Releases?

These can be found in the Media Centre.

Can I request a Case Study for a film we are working on?

Yes, of course. Please contact us, explain which work you would like to see discussed and why, and we will add it to our list of requests. If we cannot provide a Case Study, we can point you to other resources on this website which might help with your research.

Can I access any of the research projects funded by the BBFC?

Yes these are available in the Downloads section of the website.

Can I access the BBFC Guidelines?

The most recent Guidelines are available to download and hard copies are available from the BBFC Press Office. The research document which accompanies the current Guidelines is also available to download.

My PTA would be interested in a talk from an Examiner - do you give talks to parents?

Yes, as long as we have the staff available we are happy to come and give talks to adult groups explaining how we rate films and what resources we have available to parents. Talks are illustrated with clips from films and we can tailor them to specific topics if necessary - for example issues in children's films or violence in movies. Please email us at education@bbfc.co.uk for more details.

 

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