TEN years ago, a day at school for most pupils would have meant a seemingly endless six-hour day of reading from text books, scrawling in exercise books and watching the clock waiting for the buzzer to sound.
But those days are quickly becoming a thing of the past as students across the county cosy up to iPads instead of pens and paper, and enjoy interactive “immersive rooms” or computerised white boards instead of the traditional chalk and blackboard.
Lucky students from the King John School in Thundersley know only too well the blessings a 21st-century education can bring as staff at their school go one step further each year to develop their media studies - with a star-studded trip to Hollywood.
Teenagers sitting their GCSEs examinations are whisked off to the United States where they are taken straight to the heart of the film industry and given a rare opportunity to experience life in the fast lane producing films and TV shows to be watched and adored by millions.
Megan Emery, 15, said: “It is such an amazing, once in a lifetime experience. The trip really helped open my eyes to what film making is really like.”
Pupils enjoy a trip to the Warner Bros and Sony studios where they are taken behind the scenes, and allowed to film on the sets of internationally acclaimed programmes such as Friends and The Big Bang Theory.
Last year pupils were even fortunate enough to meet Hollywood film star Adam Sandler, and be taken on a tour of his offices.
Holly Bartley, 15, said: “It was just surreal. Seeing these stars and being able to use all the cameras there and assist in the making of a real production, how many people can say they had an opportunity like that?
“I am really grateful for the chance to go. It’s a great thing to be able to tell employees if I try to break into the industry.”
If this glamorous trip was not enough, upon their return home, students are welcomed to a media department which essentially caters for their every need.
The classrooms are fitted out with around 90 MAC computers, equipped with the latest industry standard programmes and software perfect for advancing the skills necessary for careers in broadcasting, advertising, and graphic design.
Aspiring radio producers can now also take advantage of the school’s new state-of-the-art radio station, creating live broadcasts, radio programmes, adverts and lunchtime broadcasts to their school canteen.
With technology like this, King John is at the front line of media education, doing everything in its power to inspire a generation.
Alan Mechem, head of media studies, said: “When I was at school we never had anything like this, so it wonderful to be able to provide these opportunities and facilities for our students now. It’s not just about teaching our students to pass exams, but to prepare them for the industries they hope to follow a career in.
“I really do think we are a touch above the rest and that our students are benefiting hugely from it.”