In my second blog post, I offer seven tips for those of you teaching A Level Media Studies for the NEA briefs, from research to planning and the essential production skills for success.
Building in lots of opportunities for your students to develop their practical skills is really important. I know many teachers are using mini-production tasks linked to the exam topics. This prepares students for the NEA by embedding production skills and familiarity with relevant media tools. It also develops their understanding of media language and representation for the exams.
These mini production tasks could include:
The brief sets out specific requirements in relation to the genre, target audience, and production content.
The brief typically requires products to include two different social groups, such as different genders or age groups. The set target audience will always be 16-25 year olds, but other aspects of the target audience will vary. Students need to consider how their cross-media production will address the specified target audience.
The brief also includes information about the media institution and distribution/exhibition. Your students should consider this both in their research and production. How this impacts on production work will vary depending on the specifics of the brief but could include awareness of regulations (e.g. pre-watershed television) or the brand identity of the institution.
Whilst research and planning is no longer assessed, it is a crucial part of the process students need to complete. Effective research into the conventions and technical codes of relevant media texts is key to the completion of strong production work. Students should also consider:
Similarly, thoughtful planning is essential. To reach level 5 production work needs to use media language and representation in a sophisticated way, which requires careful planning.
The blog format tends to be the best way for students to present their research and planning, as it allows them to easily bring together different tasks, and makes the process clear to the moderator.
A good way to finish off the research and planning and lead into the statement of intent is by getting your students to complete a pitch outlining their ideas and incorporating initial pre-production documents. This is also a good point to get audience feedback on the proposed products.
The statement of intent is an opportunity for students to reflect on how their two products meet the requirements of the brief, use the four areas of the theoretical framework, and how they link together.
Your students should consider how they will use media language and representation within their products, and explain how they will appeal to the target audience and produce content suited to the relevant media institution.
This allows them to test their ideas against the assessment criteria in relation to the theoretical framework and the links between the two products. The Statement of Intent is also a good place to highlight any use of intertextuality and ‘Easter eggs’.
Students must complete the NEA individually, but they can use others as models/performers or to operate equipment if needed. They should act as the director, making all production decisions themselves. They may want to support each other by sharing equipment and personnel which is acceptable, as long as they are responsible for the creation of all content individually.
Website templates like Wix and Weebly can be used to produce the online element of the brief, but all content must be original.
For all of us used to the legacy specifications, the assessment criteria for the reformed A Level is very different with a shift away from focusing on technical skills, though these skills will still underpin students’ production processes.
The focus of the assessment criteria is now on the four areas of the media theoretical framework:
Students will need to use sophisticated media language techniques like intertextuality or hybridity, and think about how they construct representations and the messages those representations communicate.
Ten marks are allocated to the links between the two products and students should be encouraged to create a sense of brand identity and try to make direct links across the products.
A delivery guide for the NEA is available on our website. The Moderators’ report and Exemplar Candidate Work from the 2019 series are useful sources of guidance about good practice and assessment. We have also designed a free online resource to support the moderation process. This e-learning course provides an overview of the requirements of the NEA and the mark schemes and includes marking activities using candidate work. We offer a range of CPD events to support teaching and assessment of the NEA. Information about upcoming CPD can be found in the Professional Development section of our website.
If you have any suggestions for good practice please share them in the comments below, and if you have any questions about the NEA or any other aspect of A Level Media Studies get in touch via email email@example.com or follow us on Twitter @OCR_Media_Film.
John Hibbert, Subject Advisor for Media and Film Studies
John Hibbert has worked at OCR since April 2018 and is Subject Advisor for Media and Film Studies. Prior to joining OCR John taught a range of Media and Film Studies qualifications in secondary schools, and was a head of department for the last eight years. Predictably, in his spare time he is a keen filmgoer, and in addition, enjoys reading and miserable indie music.