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Draft New GCSE Specifications for England

Discussion in 'English' started by CandysDog, May 27, 2014.

  1. CandysDog

    CandysDog Established commenter

    All exams will be closed book.

    It's a good point about AO2, though. It is going to be very hard to analyse language without the language in front of the student.

    Looking through AQA's spec, there are indeed a lot of AO2 marks for straight closed-book essays and even the mark scheme refers to language and stage directions – that's a lot for students to remember.

    Eduqas has a really detailed breakdown in its spec. Nearly all the AO2 marks are for extract/source/unseen poetry questions, with only a few of the AO2 marks for general essays (and, even then, both such questions follow an extract). This seems like a more realistic approach.
     
  2. CandysDog

    CandysDog Established commenter

    All exams will be closed book.

    It's a good point about AO2, though. It is going to be very hard to analyse language without the language in front of the student.

    Looking through AQA's spec, there are indeed a lot of AO2 marks for straight closed-book essays and even the mark scheme refers to language and stage directions – that's a lot for students to remember.

    Eduqas has a really detailed breakdown in its spec. Nearly all the AO2 marks are for extract/source/unseen poetry questions, with only a few of the AO2 marks for general essays (and, even then, both such questions follow an extract). This seems like a more realistic approach.
     
  3. gruoch

    gruoch Established commenter

    I've just looked at the mark scheme and it's mad. The specimen Inspector Calls top band response suggests comments on punctuation! WHY? And who on this planet LEARNS stage directions? Mostly they are there to help the writer visualise the performance. Actors and directors ignore them.

    And whilst it does say 'textual reference' we all know that for top band that will = quotations.

    [Has anyone taken into account the fact that Shakespeare didn't actually write stage directions, btw? And that the punctuation is someone else's? I know that's Paper 1, but it's important.]
     
  4. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    Not Shakespeare, of course, but there are playwrights (e.g. Shaw, Priestley, O'Casey) who do write elaborate pieces of text apart from the dialogue which are meant to be read as part of the work.
     
  5. gruoch

    gruoch Established commenter

    And Miller (though The Crucible has been sent into outer darkness) but it begs the question as to what is being studied. A script is a working document, not set in stone like a novel are a poem.

    I strongly object to any script being studied as though there were no flexibility of interpretation. A playwright may suggest readings and moves, but I challenge you to find me any director or actor who will treat that as The Onlie Way.

    Now, 'Murder in the Cathedral' is probably an exception as Eliot never intended it to be performed. It was written as a work of 'literature' - which is probably why no-one has revived it for years. It sure ain't drama.

    Might be a plan for someone at AQA to actually go and SEE a play on the syllabus.
     
  6. Honeydew

    Honeydew New commenter

    We're with OCR for Lit and we were hoping to stick with them for the new spec, but having seen the specimen paper, it's a definite no for us! For the first paper students have to compare a passage from their set text (modern lit) with an unseen text - fair enough. But there's also a comparison task for paper 2 between a poem from the anthology and an unseen poem! I don't see why they want students to compare in both papers? The Edexcel spec seems more reasonable - students only compare two unseen poems in paper 2.
     
  7. I'm interested in the ways context appears in these specs.

    Looking at the Edexcel ones I'm not sure what a student would write on the Shakespeare questions.

    For example:

    4(b) In this extract, we see a disagreement between the characters.

    Explain the importance of disagreements elsewhere in the play.

    In your answer you must consider:

    ? how disagreement is shown

    ? the reasons for the disagreement.

    You should refer to the context of the play in your answer.

    Is this talking about the dramatic context? Or something else? Just saying write about context doesn't seem like a helpful way of asking a question.
     
  8. Honeydew

    Honeydew New commenter

    Yes, I see what you mean Splutter. I understood context to mean the historical and social context of the play and how it affects and helps us understand events and characters' actions. So for example, in R and J, the role of a nurse in aristocratic Italian society would be relevant - it would help us understand the Nurse's relationship with Juliet and the distant relationship between Juliet and Lady Capulet. The role of Prince Escalus in ensuring peace and maintaining law and order in the community could also be linked to historical context. I think context could also be more specifically linked to the feud in the play and how it affects characters in different ways. That's just my take on things.
     
  9. CandysDog

    CandysDog Established commenter

    Eduqas and AQA also just require a comparison of two unseen poems. OCR does seem much tougher. Either they have misinterpreted the requirements or all of Eduqas, AQA and Edexcel have.
     
  10. CandysDog

    CandysDog Established commenter

    I'm also a bit surprised about how the context is included. Similarly, for AO2, language analysis. Some of the AOs don't seem to be explicitly asked about in the questions that are meant to assess them. Edexcel and AQA seem particularly guilty of this. You would think, given the recent 'tightened up' specs, the exam boards would have realised that Ofqual wants a strong link between AOs and questions.
     
  11. Is anyone able to offer a view on what Edexcel are like to deal with as an exam board? I've only ever dealt with AQA, but the new Edexcel spec looks more appealing at the moment (in terms of text choice and the poetry clusters).

    I'd be interested to hear views on how good they are at answering queries, and (probably most significantly!) on the reliability of marking.

    With regards the comparing - AQA require comparison between the anthology poems as well as the unseen (the question structure for the anthology poems looks pretty much as it is now). That's another reason for preferring Edexcel at the moment.
     
  12. CandysDog

    CandysDog Established commenter

    Well, about ten years ago the government gave them a final warning to improve or lose their powers to award qualifications...

    Edexcel's specs always look appealing. They are exceptionally good at marketing themselves. Remember they are owned by a huge worldwide conglomerate (Pearson). I've always found their specs always look glossy, but scratch beneath the surface and it's not so pretty.

    My old school had a woman from Edexcel in. She came long after the current specs had been approved, but was showing us the draft materials (which were much easier). When pushed, she admitted that she was showing a specification that actually wasn't approved! I did not like that at all.

    For the last two rounds of spec approvals (the current ones and the 'tightened up' GCSE English Literature), Edexcel have had to make a lot of changes to get past the regulators. And, of course, their Geography rep was recorded saying that their spec was so easy they don't know how it got past Ofqual!

    It probably sounds like I've got an irrational hatred of Edexcel. Maybe I have. But I do object to a profit-making company being so involved in the exams system.

    I've never had to deal with them myself, but the exams officers of both schools I have worked at always hated dealing with them. Too corporate and hard to talk to.

    I don't know about Edexcel's GCSE marking (though I know about the horrors of their SATs marking!).

    I do know that grade boundaries have been an issue. There have been massive shifts between exam series. We're talking jumps of 10+ marks between exam series for exactly the same controlled assessment tasks.

    Edexcel's grade boundary shifts were actually far greater than AQA's in the 2012 debacle. But, with over six times as many entries, AQA got all the media attention.

    Unless I'm reading the spec wrong, you're mistaken. AQA reprint an Anthology poem in the exam. Students then have to compare it to another Anthology poem of their choice. The difficulty here is that students have to remember the poem they choose, as they won't have it in the exam. I guess this ties in with remembering Shakespeare stage directions! The two unseen poems are in a completely separate section.

    Eduqas have a very similar approach to poetry: an Anthology poem is named and then students have to compare it to another Anthology poem of their choice. The difference, however, is that students are given a copy of the Anthology in the exam, so it's not a memory test. Again, the two unseen poems are in a completely different section.
     
  13. Hi,

    Thanks for reply re Edexcel. Decisions!

    I phrased my points about the AQA comparison rather poorly. The point I was trying to make was that on AQA they have to compare on both the anthology section and on the unseen section (the unseen section is divided into 3 - analyse each poem separately, then comment on links). I agree that the having to memorise the poem for AQA is a drawback; generally it's enough of a struggle to get them to remember what each one is about, let alone any details from them....
     
  14. @Candysdog I have all four ready for our meeting tomorrow inculding the IB as we are a IB school for 16-18. Plus a day of timetable to plan. Our key stage 3 is ready using the new national curriculum and we as a dept have decided the texts we want for our students. We have been called 'purests' by OFSTED- oh well. We won't lose any sleep over them. We love to teach our kids a range and our teachers have full choice. Just gutted we can't do Titus anymore...
     
  15. @VeronicAMB That goes without saying of course the department are picking, we have a day of time table and a meeting tomorrow for reseach. All powerpoints are prepared for the 4 exams boards and IB for middle and we will decide as a department whats best for our kids. I am not the HOD I'm just the second.
     
  16. CandysDog

    CandysDog Established commenter

    Well, it's great that you're considering all four boards. I'm sure you do the best for your kids.

    My department had a brief discussion about the new specs this week too with a nice comparison grid. Just for info, really. We (along with every other England department in the country, I imagine) aren't making any firm (or even tentative) decisions yet as the specs are only draft and liable to change a lot before the final versions.
     
  17. CandysDog

    CandysDog Established commenter

    Now, that's very interesting. I hadn't noticed that Edexcel only requires comparison of the unseen texts.

    The subject criteria insists on comparing unseen texts, of course, so all boards have included it.

    However, the criteria also states that students must 'compare and contrast texts studied'. Edexcel's spec doesn't seem to include this anywhere.

    Your move, Ofqual.
     
  18. Thats what we were all saying- to be honest need to get through the next two years and to ensure the new KS3 is ok. AQA and Edexcel are despised in our dept, so we aren't ready to make any decisions quickly.

    Also what do you think if there is a change of government- Labour for example appear to prefer the IB and want to introduce a system like this?
     

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