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I'm going to teach A Level in September

Discussion in 'Drama and performing arts' started by alesmama, May 21, 2012.

  1. I haven't taught it for 20 years and this is a new Academy with a brand new 6th form. Which is the best spec? We do Edexcel GCSE and I understand it on first glance, but am very open to what works best in other centres. What are the pros and cons? What's training like?

    Thank you in advance!
  2. I teach and examine Edexcel A Level
    It is a great course
    Training is expensive but I would advise you get booked on a course ASAP to help you plan and deliver the course
    There are lots of resources on the TES that may help
    I am sure someone else can advise you about other exam boards
  3. I agree with rentonave. I also teach the Edexcel A Level and I really enjoy it. I and the students I teach enjoy the highly practical element and the flexibilty when it comes to texts (even for unit 4; you still get to choose a text out of three and aren't "forced" to do a text you may not even enjoy).

  4. I have taught both the Edexcel and AQA specs at A Level. At the moment I teach AQA and examine and moderate Edexcel. I prefer Edexcel.
    As I see it pros and cons of each and the main differences and similarities:
    AQA has a written paper and a pratical exam in both the AS and A2 year. This may help impress parents / cynical management that it is a 'serious' subject. Hopefully your school will be more forward thinking and this will be irrelevant.
    At AS for AQA student study a set text chosen by the centre from a list. The text you choose limits your choice for the pratical exam as the plays cannot be from the same period / genre, and your pratical play needs to be approved by the moderator and can be rejected 4 weeks before the exam if it is the same genre / period as your choice for the written exam. So you must get your choice approved early or you could have a real problem on your hands. They will also write about live theatre seen during the course in the final exam and produce some supporting notes on their pratical work. A moderator attends the final perfromance. The teacher marks the students' prepearation work and final perfromance and after discussion the moderator may adjust the marks for the final performance. The set text and live theatre are assessed in a final written exam.
    AQA A2 has two set texts from two short lists. One is pre-20th cent. and one more modern. Pratical is devised piece and it is assessed in much the same was as the AS practical - and probably on the same evening as AS with the same moderator. Worth looking at the AQA website for a list of set texts as they may inspire you or put you off.
    Edexcel AS has no written examination which may or may not be a good thing depending on your school and students. There is pratical and written coursework. Students study 2 contrasting plays chosen by the teacher and are awarded marks for their partical workshops by the teacher. One workshop is videoed and three students marked. The videoed session is sent to the moderator who uses the accuarcy of the marking of the 3 students in that hour as a guide to the teacher's accuarcy in general. Those 3 students can be given better marks overall for the unseen workshops if necessary, the aim is to mark that single hour accauartely. Students then produce 3000 words of notes on the two plays they have studied considering a range of areas outlined in the spec, and a 1000 live theatre review. The teacher marks this work and a sample is sent to the moderator to check accuracy of marking along with the video of the pratical. This is a popular unit with many teachers as they have so much choice and control of what is studied and how, and students can rewarded for their pratical work and focus and commitment in the workshops even if they struggle to express it in writing. Leads on well from GCSE Edexcel coursework, and nothing comparable to it on AQA course. Then there is a pratical exam of scripted play and monologues or duologues. An examiner will come to see the perfromance and mark all the students. There is no opportunity to discuss the marking with the examiner and you will not know what the marks are until they are published in August.
    Edexcel A2 has devised piece and supporting notes as coursework. So the preperation, the perfromance and the notes are assessed my the tecaher and the moderator sees a sample of the notes and DVDs of performnces to check the teacher's accuracy. The final written exam has a choice of 3 set texts which have to be explored in realtion to their orginal perfaomnce conditions. Students write about rehearsal stratgies and another essay about their ideas for a production of the play. They also write an essay on a piece of live theatre BUT this cannot be any play. It must have been written in one of 3 time periods and their essays need to demonstarte an understanding of how they production they saw differs (or not) from they way it would have orginally been performed.
    AQA training is moving more and more to on-line sessions. They still do some face to face meetings, but online seems to be the way it is going. Personally I dislike this. Both specs offer plenty of meetings and training as long as your school can be persuaded to pay for them, because no CPD is cheap these days! If you go for Edexcel best to look for a course given by Alan Perks. He is the chief examiner, so he is the final authority, but he is also an excellent communicator.
    My choice, as I have said, would be Edexcel. I think the course is more inetersting and presents more opportunites for students to learn pratically as well as giving teachers more choice and control over what they teach and how.
    My HoDs reasons for choosing AQA are that she likes to opportunity to discuss the pratical marks with the moderator and believes she may sometimes be able to gain slightly higher marks for the students due to the dialogue they have and the opportunity to present and defend the students' intentions. She aslo believes - entirley wrongly in my opinion - that universities consider the AQA course to be 'better' or more academic. I think this is a hangover from the days when AQA offered a Theatre Studies course and Edexcel offered a Drama course, so the attitude is 12 years out of date, and I'm not certain it was true even then!! But I only taught one cohort of Edexcel Drama pre-2000 so I am not really able to remember. I have no reason to believe she is correct about it, and she's ceratinly never offered any convincing evidence to support it.
    Hope all this helps and isn't too much information.
  5. Tinyfairy

    Tinyfairy New commenter

    If you do Edexcel GCSE the follow on is very helpful to the Edexcel A level. A lot of the tasks etc are similar so your students will have a better grounding for starting the course. However, whichever spec you choose the best training is to examine or moderate that specification, I have found this a great way to gain a better understanding of the spec and its requirements.
  6. pussycat

    pussycat New commenter

    Taught both. MUCH prefer AQA. No contest. Much better for GCSE too.
  7. thingwall

    thingwall New commenter

    No contest for me - Edexcel superior. Though the best A Level I ever taught was the old Curriculum 2000 Edxcel.
    OCR better than both at GCSE.

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