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Which Drama GCSE Exam board to choose?

Discussion in 'Drama and performing arts' started by SidnAlfie, Jan 21, 2011.

  1. <font size="2">Hi all,</font><font size="2">I am a new subject leader for Drama and for the last couple of years we have only taught BTEC Performing Arts at my school. We have previously offered GCSE Drama through OCR, this was primarily because it is all practical with a portfolio and no written exam. I would like to reintroduce GCSE back, particularly with all the grumblings and changes from the new government. So I wanted to seek advice from you experts out there and see what has been successful for you. A bit of back ground: My school is a National Challenge school that has gone through a large period of change recently, it is an improving school and this year our results have been the best ever, however on the whole the pupils still struggle in written exams, their literacy levels are below national average. Drama is very popular and those that pick it love the performing aspect of the course and can be incredibly creative, I obviously want to challenge the pupils but also find an exam board that they will be most successful with. </font><font size="2">Any advice? </font>
     
  2. <font size="2">Hi all,</font><font size="2">I am a new subject leader for Drama and for the last couple of years we have only taught BTEC Performing Arts at my school. We have previously offered GCSE Drama through OCR, this was primarily because it is all practical with a portfolio and no written exam. I would like to reintroduce GCSE back, particularly with all the grumblings and changes from the new government. So I wanted to seek advice from you experts out there and see what has been successful for you. A bit of back ground: My school is a National Challenge school that has gone through a large period of change recently, it is an improving school and this year our results have been the best ever, however on the whole the pupils still struggle in written exams, their literacy levels are below national average. Drama is very popular and those that pick it love the performing aspect of the course and can be incredibly creative, I obviously want to challenge the pupils but also find an exam board that they will be most successful with. </font><font size="2">Any advice? </font>
     
  3. Do not use Edexcel. Too much written work - ok it is not a written exam, but you have to treat it as if it was. my students have been writing essays in silence for 2 months now! Aqa has written exams, but the students just need training as it is very straight forward.
     
  4. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    Loathe AQA
    Currently teaching OCR (inherited) which is OK, but again lots of written work, but I think that's now standard.
    i used to love the Edexcel syllabus, but am unfamiliar with the new one. I've looked at WJEC when I applied for a job in Wales and liked the look of that.
     
  5. I teach Edexcel but am finding the controlled assessment such a nightmare (5000 words under controlled assessment conditions - only 500 words less than A level English Literature students do over two years NOT under teacher supervision.) I've tried everything, booking laptops in a classroom when the pupils spend at least half of their time trying to log on, etc.; handwriting the work; writing frames; after school catch-up sessions (a whole term of those twice a week) and still the quality of work is, except for the most dedicated, poor. I'm beginning to think that a final written exam would be better than this.
     
  6. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    OCR has working notebook for prep (unmarked) + working notebook review in CA conditions post module - 1 hour per module. Sounds much more manageable.
     
  7. Stick with Edexcel. Controlled Assessment is a nightmare in all subjects this year. We have it in English for the first time and I have found that staff are currently three weeks behind schedule - and there's a lot to pack in - because it has to be done in class. I suspect you are already trying this, but, are you getting your students to do the CA as they go along and then just spending a bit of time at the end pulling it all together? My school's Drama classes are doing it that way and it's only taken a few weeks longer than usual to complete and standards are OK.
     
  8. I'm lucky this year in that my class is pretty able (not like this every year!) and seem to be coping ok. We've done lots of note making and highlighting bits we want to include. Then we've looked at examples of the structure of how you write it. (I think this is the hardest bit as I find it takes them a while to get into writing about drama well and they obviously can't do drafts, etc to practise.) I do think it's an awful lot of words and I almost agree that I'd rather have a written exam. (I wonder whether controlled assessment will be tweaked for all subjects next year? First run through is likely to throw up some issues.) Having said that, Edexcel is still the most practical out of the exam boards, followed, I think, by OCR. If you're looking for something more practical less academic students I would definitely look at these two first.
     
  9. For what?
    No essays required (portfolio) and time limit for completion of written work is, I think, about 6 hours for each exam (Part 1, Part 2).

     
  10. There is no limit on the time allowed as this is limited control. They advise approximately six hours for each part (of which there are three) which is ok for some and not for others. Whilst I may have used a slight exaggeration (it is in fact 6 weeks), the general point is the same! They are not allowed to communicate with one another during the controlled assessments (hence silence!). Whilst the exam board do not stipulate 'essay', that is what they expect for higher achieving students (from exam board training and looking at the samples at standardisation) - they have 5,000 words to write in total and exam board training makes it clear that writing under this is 'self-penalising'. They certainly do not call them 'portfolios' - I think you need to check the spec again!
     
  11. I don't need to check the spec. - but I did.
    The advice on the time limit is 6 hours / 4 hours.
    It's called a "documentary response" - it used to be called a portfolio but they had to change it (the name).
    An essay is not required and is not mentioned. Writing in non-essay form is perfectly acceptable and in fact encouraged.
    There aren't three parts - there are two. (There are three pieces of work - 2 x response + 1 x review).
    Controlled conditions means supervised by a teacher - it doesn't mean in silence (and it will quite often be necessary for students to communicate with others with whom they worked).
    5000 words is the maximum, not the minimum. Writing more is pointless; writing less doesn't penalise unless they don't cover the criteria properly.
    Whether it's a good exam is a different matter, but let's get the basiscs right if we are giving advice.
     
  12. Please check again - the students are not permitted to communicate in limited control conditions. They are not permitted access to the internet nor are they allowed to take drafts in. It is not worth arguing, but please be aware of this as it can bite us in the a**se. The exam board have pointed out that writing less can be self-penalising - in fact every essay I have used for standardisation points this out. The advise on the time limit is 4/6 hours per piece of work. In reality, to ensure they cover what the exam board are asking you really need to prep these kids - mine have found it so difficult despite lots of homework. Do check the sample materials- they are all in essay form and the principal moderator advises to offer essay titles to allow students to access the outstanding category.
     
  13. ual response to the six hour
    assessment produced under controlled conditions. Whilst there is no time limit for
    the production of the documentary response, once students have begun their final
    submission, the work must remain with the supervising teacher. The supervising
    teacher may give the students support during the controlled conditions session(s),
    but must be 100% sure that the work is the students? own. Students must not,
    therefore, discuss their work with others.

    Please see above from the controlled assessment guidance from edexcel. Whilst they can ask each other for a pen, it is not permitted for students to talk.
     
  14. thingwall

    thingwall New commenter

    My last school experience of AQA is that the written exam slaughters weaker students but can be fine for others. I've switched to OCR from Edexcel and am enjoying it. 10% more written than Edx but I'm hoping the moderation won't be as fussy and arbitrary as Edx became in the last 3 years of the old spec.
     
  15. Yes, Edexcel want the written element to be similar to the old spec because it makes things easier for staff. I'm not sure if all the hoo-hah about controlled assessment is a question of teachers, knickers and twisting. I teach English, mostly, and we have found that it is very easy to allow CA time and notes and teaching to slip. A unit that we should have completed before Christmas has taken us all three or four weeks longer with a lot of harumphing about the time it takes. I've adopted a 'just get on with it' approach and it seems to have worked. Yes, students should be talking about their work as they do it, make notes etc., but when it comes down to them actually producing their own CA, it has to be on their own and, yes, silence is easier to insist upon as it keeps children focused. Remember, you are the teacher-examiner and, as such, you interpret the rules to make sure they are followed and students produce work that is entirely their own. One final thought from a moderator: I like essay responses because I have an English background and prefer it BUT I know that the diagram, drawing, note approach that most students use is better for them. In fact, in my last GCSE DRama group, I have twenty students and 19 produced diagrams etc and one produced an essay. Be flexible, be confident, be sure.
     
  16. I wish I could be sure, but after moderation last year, I cannot be so sure! They praised us in 2009 for exactly what they ripped us to shreds (25 marks off every student) for in 2010. This is why we've left Edexcel as we just don't know what they are asking us for anymore! Hopefully this year will be ok, but I just can't be sure anymore! @resources for drama - they have a controlled assessment guidance for teachers booklet on their website.
     
  17. horsemarket

    horsemarket New commenter

    I know exactly what you mean. I am fed up with their inconsistency and am looking for an alternative. Last year our practical examiner gave every student one grade higher than we would have given them and this year a different examiner gave every student one grade lower. It's not individual cases that come up, it's whole cohorts. I really feel that I'm making them hostages to fortune with Unit 3. The standard line from Edexcel seems to be 'you can challenge our marks but we'll support our examiner'. As for the controlled assessments, the grade boundaries are far too high if you apply them fairly - should you really have to be 'outstanding' to be a B student? And what does that even mean? - some qualification is in order as this is the opposite of rigorous.
    Does anyone know how much CA there is with AQA as I am seriously considering swapping to them?

     
  18. The controlled assessment is the Unit 2 which is the practical coursework.
    Page 27 of the spec gives the three things that the centre needs to do.
    6.1 Authentication of controlled assessment work
    In order to meet the requirements of the Code of Practice AQA requires:
    <font size="2" face="HelveticaNeueLT Std,HelveticaNeueLT Std">candidates to sign the Candidate Record Form to confirm that the work submitted is their own
    </font>
    <font size="2" face="HelveticaNeueLT Std,HelveticaNeueLT Std">teachers/assessors to confirm on the Candidate Record Form that the work assessed is solely that of the candidate concerned and was conducted under the conditions laid down by the specification
    </font>
    <font size="2" face="HelveticaNeueLT Std,HelveticaNeueLT Std">centres </font>to record marks of zero if candidates cannot confirm the authenticity of work submitted for assessment.<font size="2">The completed Candidate Record Form for each candidate should be attached to his/her work. All teachers who have assessed the work of any candidate entered for each unit must sign the declaration of authentication.
    If teachers/assessors have reservations about signing the authentication statements, the following points of guidance should be followed.
    If it is believed that a candidate has received additional assistance and this is acceptable within the guidelines for the relevant specification, the teacher/assessor should award a mark which represents the candidate&rsquo;s unaided achievement. The authentication statement should be signed and information given on the relevant form.
    If the teacher/assessor is unable to sign the authentication statement for a particular candidate, then the candidate&rsquo;s work cannot be accepted for assessment.
    If, during the external moderation process, there is no evidence that the work has been properly authenticated, AQA will set the associated mark(s) to zero. <font size="2" face="HelveticaNeueLT Std,HelveticaNeueLT Std">&bull; &bull; &bull; </font>
    </font><font size="2" face="HelveticaNeueLT Std,HelveticaNeueLT Std"></font>
    They need to communicte during the controlled assessment and I would argue that any devised work or ideas created are a result of what we have seen and experienced in our lives. It is how we present it that makes it different and unique. So can we honestly say that it is all our candidates own work? As long as they have not just copied something else then its fine. I make sure all work is completed in school and students are encouraged not to meet outside school for GCSE. I am in a dept of 2 but have a thriving afterschool take up of GCSE students refining work.
    I make my students keep a portfolio so that I can keep abreast of how a piece is shaping and if any strange decisions are made I can question them where the idea came from and how and why they want to use it. It is also useful reference material when it comes to the revision for Unit One.
    I use the 15/60 marks as a very sucessful behaviour management tool and give each student a mark each lesson and have this displayed and the average rounded up or down at the end of the unit. I also credit them for the after school sessions they do.
     
  19. Beware! Check another thread - AQA has delivered unfair and weird marks this year, after a disastrous written paper.
     
  20. Choosing Edexcel for drama GCSE has similarities to going to Vegas with one's life-savings and saying "All on black!".

    Although, to be fair, the course is imaginative, unique and allows autonomy, the marking is vague, the spec is blurred and the goalposts are apparitions or, at best, holograms.

    As many of these threads have told us, none of us know where we stand and, most importantly, our offer to the pupils is flimsy, fragile and insecure(all words that could not be considered in a conversation concerning a "good education").

    One may say that these threads are simply paranoid, bitter and teachers venting frustrations about bureaucracy when, in fact they should be looking towards their own shortcomings, I say this: the mob is rarely wrong!

    We are looking to move to WJEC or OCR in the next week or so.

    Edexcel? Barge-pole. Don't. With.Touch.A.
     

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