David Buckingham (Media) and Ian Wall (Film) have both been attending the ‘stakeholder consultations’ with ofqual, the DFE and the exam boards. You will be pleased to know that several teachers have also been part of the groups, so that there is a strong voice for media educators. At the moment, progress sounds good, as David and Ian report:
The definitions of aims and subject content in Media Studies are being clarified and strengthened in several ways, but they should continue to reflect accepted definitions of the field in terms of four key concepts (media language, representation, institution, audience), and as involving critical analysis plus creative production. There is likely to be a somewhat stronger emphasis on historical as well as contemporary aspects of media (at both GCSE and A-level); and on global media (at A-level). The key issue as the process goes forward is likely to be the role of coursework. All the stakeholders (teachers, academics, industry representatives) were insistent on the importance of practical production and extended research-based essay writing: both were seen to be essential preparation for further study and for employment, and in many respects to be more demanding than timed tests.
Many of the areas covered in discussion regarding Film Studies mirrored those within Media Studies. As with Media Studies, the aims and subject content of Film Studies were clarified and strengthened, there was a clear agreement between all stakeholders of the importance of practical production and extended research based essays (the latter particularly emphasized by the academic members of the group). One key point at GCSE was the demand for more focus on world cinema.
Differentiation between Media Studies and Film Studies will also be an issue. Media Studies criteria will continue to specify at least three media, although film will often be one of these. The subject content may also be defined in rather different ways, with more of an’aesthetic’ emphasis in Film Studies and a more ‘sociological’ one in Media Studies. As the process moves forward, there is a need to avoid drawing up endless ‘shopping lists’ of favourite topics, and to ensure that the criteria remain reasonably future-proof.
The issue of AS and A Level being separate examinations with potentially different content raised issues regarding how courses might be organised to offer students flexibility of choice at the end of AS.