Came out of the Edexcel INSET on AS and A level composition yesterday more confused than ever before. Course run by the chief examiner of composition who sets the briefs. He seemed to not have all of the answers and "passed the buck" when most of the room turned on him and told him that remarks and appeals are not effective. One or two observations. A student got nearly full marks for a piece that actually did not fulfil the specified brief - he suggests there is lots of room within a brief. May we ask then the point of even setting a brief? "positive marking" - marking is done by using the holistic mark (work from the bottom upwards) and then apply this to each criterion to create a "best fit option" - what's the point in having specific criterion if you mark this way? Students spend hours on their compositions, yet at AS level they can lose up to a 3rd of the total mark with the sleeve note (by the way, to get full marks on the 3rd question worth 12 marks you have to make 17 points with a minimum of 5 examples of inspirations from other works and give the bar numbers in your composition as references). Therefore you can write an A grade composition, but only get a D as a final unit mark if you do badly here. The sleeve note only exists as they had 20 marks left over in the 2008 reform of the specification where the students have to write about music so they had to put them somewhere so they've put it on the end of this - in my opinion it devalues the actual composition if the writing is worth so much. There is no difference in marking schemes between AS and A level. There are a seperate panel of AS and A level examiners. There is no way to tell between the differentiation required between the two levels - it is purely subjective and up to the examiner. Each examiner spends about 20mins per student marking their submission - I have no problem with this, I just think it's interesting to know. I am angry that we had to pay to go on this course where so much was revealed that we didnt know before. I am cross that the information is not available directly in teacher packs from Edexcel. I am angry that there seems to be so much uncertainty in the way something is marked (including from the examiner). I am frustrated that there were nearly 30 unhappy people in the room yesterday and we were told to write to the exam board.....hello brick wall. Right, time to look at another exam board. It is a shame. I think the edexcel specification is good, but the marking and total explicit subjectivity in marking this element totally ruins and undermines the hard work of students and teachers alike. This year the lives of many students have been ruined in terms of university choices and applications. Why? Because whichever way you look at this, there is uncertainty surrounding this element. Such a shame.