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Discussion in 'Music' started by singstarcool, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. singstarcool

    singstarcool New commenter

    Hi, I have started teaching BTEC music for the first time this year. I am the only person in my dept and really need to get into contact with someone who can help me assess and grade the assignments that my students have completed. The assignments were passes by the in school checker but as he said he does not know how to grade them. I am based in Somerset but am willing to travel to get this sorted. If there is anyone out there who could spare some time to help me in this I would be very, very grateful. I also have assignments that I would be willing to share.

  2. TrueFaith

    TrueFaith Occasional commenter

    Although it is possible for people to help you (if there's anything you could e-mail me, I'd be more than happy to have a look at it...), it's ballache on your part.

    Is there anyone else in your school who teaches BTEC? They can (and should) help verify your assessment decisions. It is a requirement of running the courses that somebody in school checks your grading...
  3. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    No disrespect to the original poster, but is there anyone who can tell me why BTec seems to throw up so many apparently basic problems on this forum?
    Is it inadequately specified? Does it lack support materials? Do Edexcel not bother with INSET?
    I realise that BTec is not really a public exam, but I understand it has ambitions to be an alternative to such exams as GCSE and A level.
  4. If you want to send me some samples of written pieces and the feedback sheets and grades you have awarded i'd be happy to unofficially moderate them for you.
    With all due respect, his role is a little defunct unless he can agree grades with you. I appreciate that isn't very helpful information but the point of someone checking it for you before the EV visits is confirm that the grades awarded and feedback given are to the right level.
  5. I think it's like any new qualification you have to teach Florian, you want reassurance that you are guiding and marking to the correct standard. Some of the assessment criteria can be a little ambiguous and takes a while to get used to. The one thing BTEC could provide that would be of great help are examples of work at Pass, Merit and Distinction levels for comparison. I've never looked that hard to see if BTEC offer them, i've just developed a library of my own for any new staff.
    Not in my opinion
    Each 'unit specification', e.g. Music Theory and Harmony, tells you what content you should be covering and what they need to provide for assessment. The unit spec also includes sample assignments (new to the 2010 spec I think as a result of inconsistency) and tells you exactly what the learners should be providing for a pass, merit and distinction on all of the criteria.

  6. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    It's not new. I did BTEC and I am ancient. Jen meant that BTEC was new <u>to the OP</u>.
    I wasn't aware that those things were graded on any level 2 qualification, whether that be GCSE or BTEC.
    They are a bit comparable. "Not remotely" might be going a bit too far (though I partially agree with your point).

    What's wrong with chord symbols btw?
  7. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    There is no requirement to harmonise a melody at GCSE, so that is irrelevant.
    You seem to be saying that the BTec requirement to harmonise a melody just means working out the chords that will fit - so, for example, if the teacher sets a melody trhat starts with C-E-G, followed by G-B-D, students just need to identify a chord of C followed by a chord of G.
    I don't have a problem with that, but if it really is that basic, I don't think you should be afraid of saying so.

  8. SSC-have sent a message. Be in touch. H
  9. This is what I meant. If I were taking on a the teaching of a qual that was new to me i'd definitely seek advice from someone that had taught it before to make sure that I was preparing the students to the right level.
    I have alwyas found Edexcel very helpful with this sort of thing if I have ever had any doubt. Although I don't use it now, we always used to have the option of a music expert from BTEC to refer questions such as the one you raise to for clarification. I'm sure thats still available, I haven't checked in the last 5 yrs though.
    Please bear in mind that the BTEC Level 3 is predominantly designed as a vocational course in the popular music arena. As such you would consider a wider range of harmonisation/orchestration techniques than you might do for A-Level. I teach a massive array of these but my students do not go into as much detail, or spend as much time as their A-Level counterparts would in areas such as you mention or things like fugue writing.
    Whilst of course basic theory fundaments would be covered, such as traditional 4 part writing, you also have a whole raft of other things that need to be looked at which relate more to popular music, e.g. horn section writing . I wouldn't expect my students to submit a traditional choral harmonisation for this unit, they would most certainly be capable of doing that and if they presented me with something in this style then my marking would reflect the points you mentions.
    In the workplace they are aiming at it would not be something they would really ever be asked to do. An assignment I have previously set for this is a scenario where they are working with a session singer (who has a melody) and creating, using theoretical knowledge a) an accompaniment for the melody and b) an orchestration of that devised accompanimnet that suits the style of music they are producing.

  10. The only result a student would get from me if they submitted something like this would be for me to hit them repeatedly around the head with the manuscipt paper they have submitted it on.
    But both are skills they will genuinely need in the popular music environment which is why they are being assessed on them.
    I would also refer you to the London College of Music Popular Music Theory grades Florian. I think at the moment you seem to be considering that the theory expectation on the BTEC is weak, IMO it is merely different, but for good reason. If you look at the harmonisation sections in those it would give you more of an idea of what is covered.
    My students have not spent hours analysing and wiritng music in classical music forms. However, their knowledge of harmony is very sound and there are areas of popular theory that they are very able in where A-Level students would be utterly clueless. I am yet to meet an A-Level pianist/classical guitarist who I could throw a chord chart at (without scored 'dots') who would actually be able to do much with it. Try it, next time you are with such a student, ask them to bang out a basic twelve bar blues accompaniment or ask them to play you a 9, 11 or 13 chord. Most of them wouldn't understand what the symbols meant, let alone be able to comp their way around an accompaniment true of the style, e.g. country/disco/blues etc. This is the type of thing my students need to be able to do.

  11. Sorry missed the edit, I haven't phrased this well. They analyse all different forms in the classical arena, they don't spend as many hours writing in such ways as an A-Level student certainly would need to.
  12. singstarcool

    singstarcool New commenter

    Thanks murphy01. I am teaching units 1 and 4 but only for 2 cycles as my SLT have decided I have to go back to GCSE after the recent government announcements.
    I would glady travel to Devon as my headteacher suggested a school in Plymouth. I just need to feel reassured that I am getting the grading right and giving my students the right feedback.
  13. Hi
    If you would like to come to visit us you are more than welcome. Our school is on the outskirts of Exeter. I have been teaching Btec for a number of years and I am also the quality nominee. If you leave a contact email I will get back to you. cheers, yarrow.

    P.S. This is the school suggested by murphyo1!
  14. The BTEC is available at both level 2 and level 3 and OP didn't state which level. I would assume they are talking about level 2 and delivery to years 10 and 11. I only used the level 3 theory spec as an example as from previous posts you seem to have delivered a lot of A-Level, I thought the sample Level 3 spec would be more appropriate for my discussion with you.
    This is true but bear in mind that this unit as regards to weight in qualification would be 1/6th of an A-Level in music.
    This is true and maybe answers more of your opening post about why teachers are confused. However, advice given to me from BTEC Music specialists that I have consulted with have assisted me in my course design.
    This may have been the wine from last night talking, hence the rambling post :)
    This would be very useful, along with examples of melodies to use and sample pieces of work that are at a pass, merit and distinction level for teachers to reference.
    Not at all, I apologise if I implied that. As a person of classical roots myself I am aware of the hard graft that is put in and the versatility of the performers. You only need to look at the backgrounds of some of todays most prolific songwriters or Musical Directors/supervisors etc in the West End to know that the majority have attended the most established music schools in the UK. I have great admiration for the musical excellence in the private sector, my point was merely to point out the different skill set they need.

    I may be being overly defensive, I drill my students to the nth degree on classical history, theory and compositional techniques. I have taken this to the extent that they have 3 hrs solely of music theory/musicianship and 1 hr of chorus every week over 2 yrs (and in addition jazz theory, composition,songwriting, arrangement classes etc). They enter the LCM grades from 5-8 and yet I always hear about how BTEC is the weaker course. Yes, there are students that can complete a BTEC at a pass level that would not get through the academic rigour of A-Level but in my experience these are not the majority of the cohorts.
  15. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    That's quite an exaggeration, but nobody is forcing you to read or participate in a debate if you don't wish to.
    Personally, I think the relative equivalence of qualifications has been made a very hot topic by the current government, so I'm not one to bury my head in the sand and ignore it.
    You will see that the poster of the original question has already said that her SMT is pushing her away from BTec to GCSE as a result of government initiatives. I'd like to see some informed debate on how these qualifications differ, and if either are worth preserving in their current form. (If you gather that I don't rate GCSE Music highly, you would be absolutely correct).
  16. I don't, I can only hope that they are trying to prepare them accordingly. I'm sure there are many cowboys out there and BTEC itself does not specify taking theory to the lengths I deliver with my team. I've created time on the timetable for it basically.
    The theory unit itself is only 1/18th of the full Extended Diploma. What is utterly ludicrous to me is that you could actually deliver that whole qualification (3 A-level's worth) without even doing the theory unit. It is not a compulsory unit on ANY of the 3 parts of the Level 3 qualification. What on earth Edexcel think those students will do at the end of their course beggars belief. Any centre, IMO that would deliver it like this and avoid the more theoretical topics (arranging music and composition are also not compulsory units) is the reason that the BTEC has a bad name and they are being totally irresponsible. The popular conservatoires (e.g. ICMP/Tech schools) have a hefty screening process, particularly with regard to musicianship.
    He is right.
    I think more stringent guidelines would be helpful - as long as they headed in the right direction.
  17. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    If I have given the impression that that is my view, I apologise. I merely find BTec music mysterious, because I don't think it is adequately specified, and I do think considerable secrecy surrounds the qualification, including such basics as how many students take it, and how many pass it at each level. These really are fundamental facts that need to be made public - crumbs, even the Associated Board isn't shy about such matters.
    Since it is a private exam, run by Edexcel, there is nothing that agencies such as Ofqual can do about this. But such secrecy and lack of precision about content (e.g. not even saying that it is primarily aimed at "the popular music arena") does nothing to encourage the musical world to understand the exam more thoroughly.
    I think this is terrible for students - surely they are the ones that matter? - and I'm very disappointed to see people like Murphy not even wanting to debate the issue.
    If I was teaching BTec Music, I'd want to get together with others teaching this specification and strongly pressure Edexcel to be much more open about the exam in the ways that I have outlined. Failure to do so will only lose custom - and I hardly need point out that the OP has already said that her SMT is making her go back to GCSE, which will continue to happen in other schools if the government and the public are not better convinced of the value of BTec.
    And then - guess what? - because it is a private exam - if Edexcel finds it no longer makes a profit, it will suddenly be withdrawn and there will be no redress.
  18. On reflection, I think you are right in that statement. I think part of the issue is that in order to keep the design flexible, allowing for vocational interpretation, it suffers in detail and is open to interpretations from centres that could be designed to keep their stats in check, rather than to provide the best education for their students.
    Personally I would prefer more rigour on the assessment side of things from Edexcel, their move last year to have a lead IV in every centre and thus avoid an annual EV visit horrified me. I refused the option as I want the double/triple marking happening in my departments to confirmed as correct. The EV's I have always had have been very rigorous, I find this useful.
    I don't share this concern, it may cause problems for the level 2 course but the amount the level 3 is used in vocational colleges will mean there is always business for it. Unless the plan is to stop vocational delivery entirely...(you never know with Mr Gove!). The Wolf report was pretty damming of school delivery, I don't really hold GCSE in much esteem but I did find myself preferring it for incoming applicants over the level 2 BTEC. Again, as you mentioned in a discussion with your friend, the delivery for the GCSE was at least more consistent.
  19. I think you have misunderstood my point florian. The original thread was asking for <u>help. </u>It was for that reason I chose to read it.
  20. Singstarcool - I have sent you a message with my email address if you would some further help/resources etc.

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