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Frightened to start EDEXCEL GCSE Drama after reading posts

Discussion in 'Drama and performing arts' started by MrsMint, Apr 7, 2012.

  1. In September I begin a new post at a new school as Teacher in Charge of Drama. In recent years the students at my new school have studied BTEC Performing Arts and got good results as this course seems to have suited them.

    I recently spoke with the Assistant director (for curriculum ) who is very eager for the school to also offer GCSE Drama (EDEXCEL). I consulted my predecessor (HOD) about this and she has doubts about whether the GCSE is suitable for many of these students, the school have however been quite clear that they should be offering a GCSE as well. I know that they are under pressure to do so and I know that other schools are in the same position.

    I have taught the GCSE in the past and recognise that it is a good course but I am now very distressed by some of the recent threads I have read about very harsh marking. In my heart, I feel that the safer option would be to stick with BTEC (some of the students are quite low ability academically), but the school have decided they would like me to offer both, I have therefore agreed to do so (it is only since then that I have heard such horror stories).

    I can only think that I should now make my concerns clear about EDEXCEL before the course begins, but as you can imagine as I am starting a new post in a new school and I do not want to come across as negative.

    Any thoughts/ideas would be very welcome as I am beginning to wake up in the night thinking about this!

    Mrs MInt
     
  2. In September I begin a new post at a new school as Teacher in Charge of Drama. In recent years the students at my new school have studied BTEC Performing Arts and got good results as this course seems to have suited them.

    I recently spoke with the Assistant director (for curriculum ) who is very eager for the school to also offer GCSE Drama (EDEXCEL). I consulted my predecessor (HOD) about this and she has doubts about whether the GCSE is suitable for many of these students, the school have however been quite clear that they should be offering a GCSE as well. I know that they are under pressure to do so and I know that other schools are in the same position.

    I have taught the GCSE in the past and recognise that it is a good course but I am now very distressed by some of the recent threads I have read about very harsh marking. In my heart, I feel that the safer option would be to stick with BTEC (some of the students are quite low ability academically), but the school have decided they would like me to offer both, I have therefore agreed to do so (it is only since then that I have heard such horror stories).

    I can only think that I should now make my concerns clear about EDEXCEL before the course begins, but as you can imagine as I am starting a new post in a new school and I do not want to come across as negative.

    Any thoughts/ideas would be very welcome as I am beginning to wake up in the night thinking about this!

    Mrs MInt
     
  3. Edexcel is actually a great course to teach- lots of freedom and scope to teach things that suit your pupils. The C/A is time consuming and tedious but there is no written exam and so that is the pay off! 40% is marked purely on acting so if your pupils are talented (but less academic) they can still do well.
    Some of the problems on here have been that the guidelines for GCSE seemed to have changed mid course and people felt that even Edexcel own support books were misleading! But is a new spec and we are still learning as we go along. I am sure a lot of the issues will be ironed out by the time your new pupils go through. There is also lots of support on this forum so you will never feel alone.
    Make it clear that you need training and get on all the courses you can - these of course cost money but if they are keen to offer GCSE they should support you. If you read through the threads on here AQA seem to have some problems too, OCR and WJEC have very few complaints as they are less 'popular' and it may be worth looking at them too. OCR doesn't have a final written exam but WJEC does... I know teachers who do both and are happy with the results.
    Don't let it give you nightmares - yet!
    Hope that helps!
     
  4. I wouldn't totally discount AQA GCSE Drama - even though it has a written exam it is no different to the CA within the Edexcel specification if done properly. With AQA you have 60% based on practical work which is moderated rather then examined - most of the marks are your own and only a sample are moderated. I know a written exam may not suit your students but it is easier to prepare for than the CA - you can mark and remark exam practise over and over again in preparation. I also do not believe the exam is as challenging as the CA in Edexcel - a lot can be pre prepared and revised. It is a lot harder to prepare mock CAs. The course is more practical then edexcel imo and with CA the exam becomes a moot point.
     
  5. As rentonwve says, get training. If you are going to be offering a course that you and the school have never taught before, you MUST go on some Edexcel training - a course run by the board themselves is best. As a newcomer to the spec, you will need the guidance about the work that such a course offers, especially with the Unit 2 controlled assessment stuff. You might even be able to your school to pay for someone from Edexcel to visit or to offer 1-2-1 support.
     
  6. Good sell Big Brother! I do actually agree with the C/A being rock hard, especially to get an A...
    plus the kids HATE it. It is just a pity that the new linear GCSE will take away the chance to do the written exam early as that was a possible pull for me.
    To be fair, with Edexcel there is 40% performance but also another 25% practical process that adds up to a simliar percentage.
     
  7. I really like the Edexcel course - it completely suits my candidates, many of whom are dyslexic, or ESL.
    The performance for final exam gives them an equal chance to achieve - and I have a few who select technical skills, too.
    The opportunity to perform scripted or devised pieces allows them to develop their strengths.
    I also like the freedom of choosing the unit 2 text and unit 1 theme to suit my pupils, and usually change them each year.
    While the c/a, worth a total of 25%, is hard; for my pupils, it is less hard than a written exam, worth 40%
    I would always ask for training, though, if you are being expected to establish a new GCSE
     
  8. I think it's fair to be cautious about Edexcel, given the confusion on here!


    Personally, I think Edexcel is the best and most balanced course and I have loved teaching it over the years. However, I am concerned about the new specification. Luckily, I didn't have any issues with being scaled last year or with harsh marking, but I still felt quite unsure on some of the details of the spec and my feeling was very much that it was a new course and issues will be ironed out. However, I was alarmed when I went on a training course and felt that the course leader (Edexcel) seemed pretty shaky on the guidelines at times. At times, he seemed unsure about his answers and there were moments when he contradicted himself, as well as the advice given on a previous Edexcel GCSE course I attended.


    For me, this has been enough to make me look to moving to OCR. I completely accept that a new course will have hitches, but the stress of teaching it this year when I'm unsure about exactly what Edexcel are looking for (and when I have received mixed advice from the board itself - the real issue for me) has really taken some of the enjoyment out of teaching the course. I have two close friends who teach OCR and who are happy with that and I'm going to meet with them and explore the possibility of moving.


    I think Edexcel is a great course and hopefully, as has been said, by the time your kids go through they will be a little clearer again of the spec. People on here have been very stressed out by it this year, but don't let that colour your view too much. I wouldn't advise against it as such and, as I said, there is a lot going for it; I haven't made a final decision myself and may stick with Edexcel in the end. I would just fully investigate all options before making your decision.
     
  9. I wouldn't be too put off by what others are saying on here about Edexcel GCSE Drama - yes; there was a lot of disappointment at the end of last year with results and marks being moved down etc - mine included.
    I would like to think that I've learned from last year and would like to hope that my results will be better this year. I worry that the camera hasn't caught a lot of the stunning comments and use of terminology that students articulated in the practical but; I've made sure that they've commented about that in their Documentary Response to "justify" the marks in effect that I've given them.
    I like the course to be honest and will make chhanges to my SOW again for next year should my marks be moved down again. Hopefully not though!!!
    The only gripe I have is the subject marks not adding up to the grades Edexcel SAY they do (not the UMS) and I have absolutely no idea how to convert subject into UMS and nobody seems to be able to give me a straight and simple answer...this part worries me. I have dyscalculia so there's no point in making it complicated as it'll make me all panicky!! This is the bit I am most worried about as; from the information I was given (subject marks) at the end of last year - it doesn't add up so much so that I have two students this affects; one has a grade C in every unit (RAW) but when I add them up it doesn't add up to a C overall (RAW). [​IMG]
    But; other than a formula error (what I perceive to be anyway); I'm sticking with this course......my kids really enjoy the practical element and hate the C/A with a passion!?!?
     

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