Education, education, education…

Back in 1997 Tony Blair made his famous “education, education,education” speech. Well… he made at least three speeches where he used that line but that doesn’t stop it being an important landmark in British political history. Don’t worry, The BPPA isn’t going to get all party-political on you but we are very interested in education and we are currently looking into what we can do to promote press photography through education.

The first idea is to start very close to home and see if there is any way we can get some proper investment into continuing professional development (CPD) for working professionals. In these tight times, could there be something that our government could do to help with the costs of training and uprating our skills? How about a decent tax break for training? What if, instead of deducting the cost of training off of your marginal rate of taxation, you could deduct 50% or even 100% of the costs from your tax bill up to £2,000 in any given tax year? At the moment a £500 training session would still cost you £500 before you submit your tax return and then you would effectively get between £100 and £200 back off of your tax bill depending on whether you pay the Inland Revenue (above the basic amounts) at 20% or 40%. Wouldn’t it be a good idea if you could have the first £2,000 of training at 50%, 60% or even 100%?

At a point in the economic cycle where experts, pundits and commentators are all saying that the economy needs some proper stimulus measures, wouldn’t investing in CPD and training be a very good start? Professional organisations need to put this to MPs and our MPs need to put this to Ministers.

The second part of the association’s look towards education is a small pilot scheme for mentoring new photographers and students on industry specific courses using a Facebook Group where willing mentors – professionals with loads of relevant experience – can give some to give advice, criticism and answer questions from menthes. It’s in its very early stages but the willingness of some amazing photographers to take part shows just how much the profession wants to help channel the energies of new photographers in the right direction.

The third area we are looking at has come in response to an enquiry from a small company who want to encourage UK schools to get involved in publishing their own newspapers and to do it properly. The BPPA has offered some help and in return we want to get lots of messages out to schools, their teachers and their pupils:

  • Copyright – every creative work has a copyright owner and students producing even the smallest newspapers need to be careful using other people’s work
  • Ethics – based on the PCC Editor’s Code and various other codes of practice students should realise that journalistic ethics is NOT an oxymoron
  • Economics – producing newspapers costs money and the older age groups involved in the project need to know just how much

The project hasn’t got enough funding yet and we have offered our support if they get it going and are prepared to emphasise these key points. In the USA almost every high school has a newspaper and the dream is that we can achieve that here too. It is no coincidence that Americans have a greater respect for the media than we do and maybe that could in some part be due to many more citizens having been involved in publishing early on in their education.

Whether or not you believe that Tony Blair and David Blunkett achieved anything with their big election issue of the ’97 election, there can be few people who don’t think that education in its widest sense is a good thing. It doesn’t matter whether you are at primary school or whether you have been in the industry for 25 years or more we could all benefit from knowing more about the press.

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