GCSE Media options compared

With the news that the AQA GCSE Media Studies has been accredited, we bring you the first comparison of the three specifications. Better late than never! This ONLY gives you a list of the set texts and a few notes on them.

Download the table below:

GCSE set texts

Whilst we would not suggest that you based your choice solely on the set texts, it is clear that will be a factor for teachers. You should also look at the specimen assessment materials (draft exam papers) and at the coursework options to get an idea of what the course might feel like for your students.

Full information from the three boards is available from these links:

AQA: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/media-studies/gcse/media-studies-8572/assessment-resources
Eduqas: http://www.eduqas.co.uk/qualifications/media-studies/gcse/
OCR: http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/gcse-media-studies-j200-from-2017/

Key points from the table:

1. There is very little optionality within courses: all the AQA products are compulsory; Eduqas offer a choice in the TV set text pairs and for their music videos and online options; OCR only offers choice in the music video pairings.
2. Some of the media forms have been covered by ‘doubling up’ on objects of study- so eduqas have the online presences of their contemporary music video artists and OCR have the Observer website as well as the print edition. OCR have ‘killed three birds with one stone’ by using The Lego Movie for film, marketing and videogames.
3. You need to look carefully at each specification to see which are the ‘in depth’ studies (which will definitely come up in the exam and involve looking at all four key concepts- language, representation, audience, institution) and which are the topics which may not come up (it looks like for each board three of the six come up each year, though you have to prepare all six, but not for all four concepts). You also need to look at how they appear in the exam- set texts + unseen, short answers, full essays, etc.
4. There is a significant emphasis on history in all three (adverts in AQA and Eduqas, TV in all three, newspapers in OCR, music video to some extent in all three, radio in AQA)
5. All three feature some texts which are likely to be way outside of GCSE students’ experience- The Tatler for AQA, The Archers for Eduqas, Mojo for OCR.

The MEA has been very clear throughout this process that we feel that what the exam boards have been forced to do is a travesty of media studies- set texts has never been part of the subject and having to be assessed on nine media forms is crazy. However, we recognise that teachers are going to have to try to teach these new courses. We will do our best to help with resources and ideas. We urge teachers to keep as much as possible from their previous practice and to avoid turning this subject into rote learning preparing for tests. It is still possible to do GCSE media on the basis of developing skills, interest, knowledge and understanding and to use a wide range of media texts as part of that, EVEN IF the final exams are based upon a narrow set of choices. We don’t recommend one particular board over another- we are just glad that there is SOME choice.

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The Strangulation of Media Studies

A long read on a lengthy process by David Buckingham and Pete Fraser, MEA Executive members, writing in a personal capacity for David’s blog:

Blogpost here: http://bit.ly/2uoAgEU

Full 12,000 word account here: http://bit.ly/2uylgEX

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Update on new specs

UPDATE: OCR GCSE Media was accredited on July 13th.

We had been hoping to have more news on accreditations by now, but the wheels continue to turn slowly. AQA and OCR have still apparently not submitted their fourth drafts of A level, while it looks as if AQA’s fourth draft of AS must have been rejected, as the Ofqual site now says ‘awaiting fifth submission’. OCR put in their sixth version of GCSE last Friday and AQA’s sixth is apparently almost ready. The word from both boards on GCSE is that they are confident this will be the version to get through, and that it will be before the holiday. A level is increasingly likely to be delayed into August- if it gets through at all.

OCR announced last week that it is withdrawing GCSE Film Studies due to too few centres signing up. We are told that if there were to be a dramatic rush of schools saying they want to do the specification after all, then OCR would re-consider, so if you do want to protest about this or to tell them that you intended to do it but hadn’t signed up, e-mail complaints@ocr.org.uk sharpish! Paul Reeve, the boss of Into Film, has already contacted us to express his concern at losing that GCSE option, so it has not gone unnoticed.

If there is any news before the end of term, we’ll send it out.

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Sussex Media Teachers Conference

Report by Keith Perera

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We held the first Sussex Media Teachers Conference on 7th July at the University of Sussex. Although the core aim was to support teachers subject knowledge – given the new specs at GCSE and A level – its wider remit was to forge a network of media teachers and lecturers. In the end we had over 30 media educators from prospective trainee teachers and NQTs to experienced school and FE teachers. We also had the support of lecturers from our two local universities: Sussex and Brighton. We were ably hosted by the School of Education at the University of Sussex and the Inspire Teaching School Alliance.

The event was kicked off by Pete Fraser who reminded us of the value of media education through his own history of the subject area interspersed with examples of student work. We followed this with eight excellent workshops from Dr Tanya Kant and Dr Victoria Grace Walden (Sussex) and Dr Theo Koulouris and Dr Ryan Burns (Brighton) on contemporary media issues but linked to content of the new specifications. We ended the event with a TeachMeet set of peer led presentations sharing of practice. We heard about innovative partnerships between schools and media practitioners (Tom Misenti), the value of international educational trips (Jessica Hallissey) and colleagues from Uckfield took us through a mobile phone piece of practical work (Carla Taylor and Chris Beaumont). The full list of workshops is available here: ‪tinyurl.com/y75764x2 ‬‬‬

All in all a pretty good first attempt. I am particularly grateful for the attendance of colleagues from beyond our region (Alexandra and Danilo from Brazil).

Comments from participants were positive:

‘Great to get an injection of media theory, a chance to think outside of the treadmill’ James King

‘A brilliant day; lots of inspiration for teaching the new specifications’ – Marg Rowe

‘A good mix of theory applied and some useful teaching ideas. Synapses buzzing now!’ Graeme Scarfe

I am looking forward to continuing the conversation through other events. If you would like to join our network and/or help support future events, please contact me.

Keith Perera – k.perera@sussex.ac.uk

EXCELLENT NEW RESOURCE from Viki Walden: Fame Network

Viki is developing a website to help centres with the theory element of the new specifications, including resources written by some of the people on the theory list themselves- check it out

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