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There is currently (until 5 November 2015) a public consultation on the future of Media and Film Studies. The DfE and Ofqual have met with the exam boards and stakeholders (teachers, HE providers, subject associations and employers) to draw up subject content, from which new specifications for both GCSEs and GCEs in media and in film studies will be drawn.
So, you have until 5 November 2015 to make a comment, and the more comments surely the better, as it will show how involved we are in the debate, both as providers and teachers of Media and Film. Once the consultation is finished, the DfE will finalise the subject content and exam boards will start to write specifications – specifications that will be available to view in draft form by early summer 2016. At this point, these drafts will be presented to Ofqual for review and accreditation so teachers can prepare for first teaching in September 2017.
The subject content plays a crucial role in the development of specifications – everything that is in the subject content has to be in the specifications. It is like Masterchef (apologies) – at the start everyone is given the same ingredients, but each contestant chooses how they will prepare them. In the world of subject reform the exam boards are all given the same prescribed subject content; it’s then up to them to how they cook them up, so to speak.
These ‘ingredients’ are crucial to any discussion. So, writing as a Film and Media teacher of over 25 years’ experience in both schools and universities, what are the most important aspects of the new qualifications?
1. A formal emphasis on a global perspective – many teachers already include this because of the global reach and nature of many media and film ‘products’ (the 2015 word for texts, by the way). It is surely a good thing that this will have to be examined.
2. There will not just be contemporary texts studied, but across Film and Media, both at GCSE and A Level, there will have to be an awareness of the history of products.
3. There will be a formal recognition at A Level that non-mainstream products and audience are worthy of study. Again many teachers are already exploring this area, but it means that all students will have to be exposed to variety and to fresh approaches.
4. In Media Studies the framework of media language, representation, audience and institution remain at the core of the subject.
5. Film Studies can continue to look at a wide range of films (to be set by exam boards) across a variety of cultures and time-periods.
6. In both Film and Media, at both GCSE and A Level, coursework/NEA will be at 30%.
7. Group work will no longer be part of this coursework, which could potentially create issues for moving-image work.
8. Media Studies will have very little film content – so there is clear water between the two subjects.
9. Media will have a large number of specified theorists – at A Level, 22 at the last count.
10. Film will have no institutional content – and the proposal includes quite a complicated grid of time periods and content for choosing appropriate films – although arguably this latter point was always so.
This is just my take on the proposed key changes to the subject content.
What it could potentially mean is a canonical approach to Film. For example: ‘The Battle of Algiers’ (great film) becomes more important than ‘Transformers 4 – Age of Extinction’ – and Netflix and/or crowd funding. Is this good or bad? It is of course debateable, but I would encourage you to respond to the DfE subject content consultation to give your opinion!
Do you think the new and exciting aspects of the A Level Media subject content will get lost in the need to learn specified theorists? Again, please go to the subject content consultation to give your opinion!
Your opinion is what really counts in all this!
Having taken part in the consultation, OCR Media would also like to hear your views directly, on our early specification structure proposals – if you are interested in this please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter @OCR_Media_Film – look out especially for #TonyTalks (though some people in the team would wish I didn’t…)
Let your voice be heard!
You can access both public consultations from the DfE (on the draft subject content) and Ofqual (on the draft assessment methods), for both Media and Film, at both A Level and GCSE, through the links below:
DfE Subject Content Consultation
Ofqual Assessment Methods Consultation
Tony Fahy - Subject Specialist - English and Creative
Tony joined OCR in June 2014 having been a teacher for 28 years and having spent the last 12 as Head of Media and English at City & Islington 6th Form College. Throughout those 28 years Tony always taught Media and taught the first cohort of A Level students in 1991. Tony has moderated and examined Media, at both GCSE and A Level for 18 years. Tony has led INSET for the EMC, BFI and has also taught on the NYU summer school.