One of the biggest challenges that Media and Film Studies teachers will have to face in the future is the new requirement from Ofqual to have an ‘individual’ approach to non-examined assessments (NEA) – NEA is the new, catchy name given to coursework productions.
With this challenge in mind I recently visited a centre that has a large number of students going through both AS and A2 Film and Media with OCR.
For those of you unfamiliar with OCR’s current offer in Film Studies, our coursework units were required to take on an ‘individual’ approach when accredited for first teaching in September 2012. So I wanted to find out how a centre with a large number of students was managing their current cohort.
So what are the top tips for managing individual productions?
After speaking to the teachers in the Film department it was quickly apparent that managing individual productions with large numbers of students was possible and could be delivered very successfully; but it did require tight planning up-front; a lot of hard work and good coordination with the media department (who shared the same production kit and editing suites).
1. Plan ahead
• Collaborate with relevant departments for the following academic year if offering both Media and Film
• Before the end of summer term ensure your plan for the following year is completed
• Decide which production routes you will be offering and when for each course
2. Audit production equipment (camera, mics etc.)
3. Audit edit suites and create a schedule that maps their availability and the classroom space required for their use
4. Set up a library system for booking and logging the users of technical equipment
Whilst the visit didn’t bring about any light bulb or panacea inducing moments that would solve everyone’s problems it did however reinforce the importance that careful timetabling and planning is a vital ingredient for success.
A close-up on the centre’s environment
At this particular centre there weren’t a lot of classrooms available for Media and Film and given the high volume of students undertaking both these courses, this brought about some significant logistical challenges for the dedicated teaching team - as a result all the film groups and their teachers were not fixed to any one location so they didn’t have designated rooms for the school year. In addition the year plan is always completed to ensure that equipment is made available to classes at the correct time.
The centre shared some examples of how they scheduled in advance to ensure consistency in the availability of classrooms and the delivery of Media and Film equipment.
Production Coursework Scheduling Plan:
• AS Film concentrate on completing their Textual Analysis coursework essay over one term (Autumn 1 and 2) using a general IT room. AS Film then have priority over macs and edit suites for the spring term for two lessons per week
• A2 Film concentrate on completing their Creative Investigation over one term (Autumn 1 and 2) using a general IT room. A2 Film has priority over macs and edit suites for the autumn term for two lessons per week
• GCSE Film concentrates on completing their whole coursework portfolio during the Autumn Term. They have priority over the PCs in one classroom for Autumn term 1 and then the Edit Suites for Autumn term 2. As they are a small cohort of around 40 students, this is only 6 / 25 lessons per week (meaning the edit suites are still available for the larger A2 Media cohort)
• AS Media complete the print media production option using a general IT room, completing a music magazine cover, contents page and DPS over one and a half terms (autumn 1, autumn 2 and spring 1) for two lessons per week
• A2 Media complete moving image production briefs – usually a music video, over one and a half terms for four lessons per week (autumn 1, autumn 2 and spring 1). A2 Media have priority over macs and edit suites for the autumn term.
Technical Equipment - Managing Supply and Demand
With over 100 students completing individual work for both the AS and A2 Film Studies production units and the competing demands of the larger media department, the centre’s student numbers were large and the range of equipment was very modest. However the teaching staff expertly created and administered a library system (logging items in/out) to meet the demands from students; ensuring all items were barcoded and catalogued.
In terms of post-production work the Film and Media department have around 20 Apple Macs, ten or so which are used as edit suites, and they also make use of other IT equipment around the centre where required.
The centre also has a licence for Adobe which means that AS Media students can use any available IT room throughout the centre (as Photoshop is mapped to student log-on not machine specific) but for extra efficiency every aspect is scheduled and clearly timetabled in advance to avoid clashes – there is a big emphasis on students to take responsibility and ensure they adhere to the straightforward processes that have been set-up for their benefit.
OCR’s current approach to individual productions in Film Studies
Here at OCR there are currently two production options for Film Studies; much like there will be in reformed specifications and these include a filmed option and a non-filmed option consisting of a screenplay and digital stills of key frames.
Even though this centre has a large number of students they have still plumped for the moving image option; as the teachers in the department feel that the practice of making a film is really important to students because it helps them understand the fundamental theory and techniques behind film making. In terms of the film productions, each student is responsible for researching and planning their own work and carrying out all their own camerawork and post-production editing – but there is still the opportunity for collaboration as the students have to direct their actors (who are mostly found from within the centre) and use pupils to help with lighting and sound.
In future film specifications (for all exam boards) the DfE’s and Ofqual’s documents state there will be no marks for research and planning; the only assessed items will be the production itself and an evaluation (in Media Studies the production will be the only item marked in the NEA) – as a result the weighting of NEA has dropped from 50% to 30% however the actual production will still take the majority of marks (and in Media Studies all the marks). Even though assessment of research and planning has been lost, this will hopefully free up teacher marking time and lead to more rigorous assessments of the actual productions.
How will you manage ‘individual’ productions in your own centre?
So given the example case study and landscape painted for reformed specifications from 2017, how will you go about dealing with the challenge of delivering individual productions in your own centre from 2017? I welcome your feedback and comments.
Rob Carlton - Subject Specialist - Media and Film Studies
Rob is a Subject Specialist for GCSE Media and AS/A Level Film, and has been in the role for the past eight years. Rob is currently working with colleagues on 2017 reform. Prior to working at OCR, Rob worked for a media consultancy in London, evaluating the performance of advertising campaigns across print, outdoor, TV and cinema for a large number of blue chip clients including Colgate, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, Kodak and Reckitt Benckiser.