The Base of a Spiral (1972) By John Walker

An 11 minute documentary produced by the research unit on innovative teaching practice.

The Phillips Deaf Unit and Educational Technology

The Reginald Phillips Research Unit was based in the Centre for Educational Technology. The centre researched into the use of video technology adapted for teaching. It was a practice that became commonly accepted in the 1970s when Open University started televising their lectures on BBC 2. The idea was conceived at University of Sussex and the Vice Chancellor of the university, Asa Briggs, later became the Chancellor of Open University (1979 - 1994).

The Education Development building (now Silverstone), at University of Sussex, also housed a television studio, which was originally built for research purposes. The studio is now used for the Media Studies course at this university.

The film

The Base of a Spiral was created in 1972, by Michael Harvey. Very little could be found about the director but it is assumed that Michael was associated with the Centre for Educational Technology. In this film, the contents was influenced by Bill Watts and Marie Affleck. The credits state that all three schools: Ovingdean Hall, Hamilton Lodge and St Thomas were included in the film. But it seems only Ovingdean and Hamilton Lodge were shown.

The script in this film described that aims and purposes of the Phillips Deaf Unit, and what they wanted to achieve. This film raised questions on whether the child should fit within the 'educational regime' or whether the education should alter to meet the needs of the child. This statement was ahead of its time.

For the purposes of this research, this film was extracted from an old camera in the British Film Institution, at the request of the researchers in this project. The researchers have tried their best to identify all the children in the film and gain permission to show it in public; only some have been identified.

This clip is only show on the condition that there are no objection to airing this film but if anyone wish to object, and ask for the film to be removed - it will be taken off the website immediately. If you wish to express your objection, please write to

The Base of a Spiral

The Base of a Spiral (1972)

A film created by the Reginald Phillips Research Unit at University of Sussex

This page was added on 21/09/2012.

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