News Archive October 2015

MEA recommendations for the consultations

There are TWO separate consultation documents and we would urge all film and media teachers to complete both. If you can persuade sympathetic colleagues, parents and headteachers to complete the consultations too, that would help to make our case on the issues that matter and may just provide enough to persuade Ofqual and the DFE of our case.

The Ofqual document is here.

The DFE consultation is here.

The deadline for responses is NOVEMBER 5th.

Our response to the OFQUAL consultation for film is that we feel the assessment objectives are problematic, in that the study of the institution of cinema appears to be discontinued, making the subject a textual study only. We are also concerned about the over-emphasis upon screenplays. We disagree with the proportion of marks allocated to exams and non-exam assessment, believing that the allocation should be 50/50. We have also queried the shift to individual from group work.

We have made many specific points on film in our submission to the DFE on subject content (see below).

On media, we support the assessment objectives but not their weighting, again arguing that the balance should be 50/50 and that group work should remain. We argue that the emphasis upon theory in media studies is disproportionate.

The text of our submissions is below:

Film Studies

GCSE Film Studies

Assessment Objectives

Whilst welcoming the range of assessment objectives, we are uncertain why, in AO2, there is reference to analyzing films and their relationship to screenplays. Whilst welcoming the requirement to analyse films, there seems no logic in linking this with screenplays. Those screenplays which can be obtained legally bear little or no relationship to the development of scripts – from first script through shooting script. Those scripts which are available are normally created a posteri in order to reflect what we see on the screen. We would recommend that reference to scripts is removed from its current position and is added to AO1 so that it reads “and how film scripts and storyboards are used in the development of a film”.

We regret that only 20% of the overall marks are awarded to the production element of the specification. Similarly we feel that requiring each candidate to undertake their own production means that they will fail to understand the collaborative nature of film making.

We regret that there is no mention of the industrial practice of film making – production, distribution and exhibition. We feel that any understanding of film, as well as being placed in a historical, cultural and technological perspective also needs to be examined through the study and understanding of institutional practice which will certainly be required for issues such as spectatorship and reception.

Subject content

We welcome the requirement for candidates to have access to a broad range of films, from both an historical and cultural perspective. We would, however, expect that as well as an understanding of technological developments that candidates would also be expected to have an understanding of the ways in which institutional influences affect the ways not only in how films are understood but also how they can shape the ways in which audiences access and understand films. We would hope that references to institutions – production, distribution and exhibition, be included within the subject content.

Whilst item 8 students are required to consider production budgets ( something which is very difficult to access with any reliability, we would also expect students to consider the ways in which films are marketed and exhibited. Whilst this is touched on in paragraph 16 we feel that there should be specific reference within the subject content to development and changes in the ways in which films are circulated, marketed and consumed.

Items 10 through 13 seem overly detailed and, whilst not losing the rigour of the subject content, should be reduced to an acceptable level for GCSE.

Under skills, the requirement to analyse films from the perspective of “film criticism” might well encourage students to write very basic “film reviews” We would suggest that the subject content be rewritten so that a more critical (as in critical analysis) approach be introduced in order to avoid this pitfall.

We welcome the generic approach to film making as well as references to genre in other areas of the subject content.

A Level Film Studies

Assessment objectives

As with GCSE, we would reiterate our comments regarding the mention of screen plays and that candidates should be required to analyse films from a variety of critical/theoretical approaches and that any study of the specificities of a screenplay be placed under AO1.

We regret that there is no mention of the industrial practice of film making – production, distribution and exhibition. We feel that any understanding of film, as well as being placed in a historical, cultural and technological perspective also needs to be examined through the study and understanding of institutional practice which will certainly be required for issues such as spectatorship and reception.

We regret that only 20% of the overall marks are awarded to the production element of the specification. Similarly we feel that requiring each candidate to undertake their own production means that they will fail to understand the collaborative nature of film making.

Subject Content

We welcome the requirement for students to study a wide variety of films from an historical, cultural and technological perspective. We would, however, expect that as well as an understanding of technological developments that candidates would also be expected to have an understanding of the ways in which institutional influences affect the ways not only in how films are understood but also how they can shape the ways in which audiences access and understand films. We would hope that references to institutions – production, distribution and exhibition, be included within the subject content.

The aims and objectives are rigorous and clearly range across the development of film as an art form from both aesthetic as well as technological developments. The requirement to explore film in all of its various forms, from the feature film to the experimental, from the silent film to the short film. We would welcome mention of the documentary format within this list.

We would welcome mention of generic approaches to film, developing ideas which are seen in the GCSE Film Studies subject content, relating genre to narrative and representation.

We feel that the requirements for cinematography, sound, editing and mise en scene are over detailed and prescriptive and are too complex for students at this level.

We welcome the requirements for students to study film maker’s theoretical approach to film as well as approaches by theorists and feel that this joint approach could lead to some interesting critical “collisions” which could challenge students in their analysis of the set films.

We welcome the fact that students are asked to apply theories and not simply “learn” theories for their own sake.

We would reiterate that we believe that the following should be included in the subject content:

Generic approaches to film, in particular with reference to narrative and spectatorship as well as the institutional importance of genre.

institutional approaches to film – it is vital to examine issues of distribution and exhibition of film as these will certainly affect the subject content outlined in paragraphs 8, 9, 10, 26,27 and 28.

References to auteurism seem outdated and although “auteur” names are important when it comes to film marketing and audience reception to ask students to study “auteurs” is a retrograde step.

Media Studies

We welcome the theoretical framework defining conceptual areas of study, and the flexibility to use texts which are both critically acclaimed and of popular significance with relevance to students’ lives. The content is highly challenging, and allows students to more easily engage with contemporary media debates and practices than the current specs. It also links well to the approaches required at A Level.

However, the content seems to exceed the demand of subjects such as English Literature in requiring a far broader range of forms and texts, including those relating to emerging technologies around which theoretical perspectives are still being negotiated. In particular the references to named media theorists seem particularly demanding, relating to complex aspects of media theory currently covered, frequently problematically, at AS and A level. While we understand problems of overlap, we are concerned about the disqualification of film-related tasks from production work.

We would also hope to secure the highest weighting possible for production, which requires a far more challenging range of analytic, creative and technological skills than the discursive writing required in say Literature GCSE, and is translated here from what is normally a collaborative problem-solving process to individual responsibility for high-order skills

We applaud the clarity and pedagogy of the aims and objectives, and particularly the breadth and range of text and topics for study, which we believe will enable students to approach HE and adult life with a strong body of knowledge, skills and critical understanding.

We warmly welcome the accessible and comprehensive nature of the theoretical framework for knowledge and understanding (paras 13 – 18, 21-22, and 26-26), which is very helpfully broken down and defines the field objectively for both students and their teachers. It marks a clear development from GCSE, building in complexity and addressing in depth some of the areas introduced earlier. However, we are aware that some of this content overlaps with study at HE, and that the level of challenge needs to allow for further development at university level without duplication, (as has happened in the past).

We believe that the proposed breadth of media and types of study is extremely demanding, compared to many other subjects, and will require careful selection at the point of assessment.

We are also extremely concerned about the seemingly arbitrary range of theorists named as compulsory. Media is a broad multidisciplinary subject drawing on a wide range of constantly changing perspectives, some of which are still emergent. While suggested examples of appropriate theorists are valuable, it would be more helpful to suggest a list of possible theorists for each area in an Appendix rather than the body of the document, which could easily become a theorist’s Bible.

We welcome the inclusion of both an individual media production and a cross-media project which will allow students to extend their skills at a more challenging level as they progress through their course. We would strongly argue for this to be weighted as highly as possible, as for GCSE, given the demands of production work, and the rigour required in constructing texts to exemplify understanding of sophisticated theoretical models.

We strongly regret the focus on individually produced practical work, and believe it is unrealistic to expect work produced under such constraints to demonstrate full theoretical understanding. We would hope that some consideration can be given in the specifications to the significance of collaboration in media production and the media industries.

When filling out the consultation documents, we would urge contributors to draw attention to the following:

the loss of group production
the reduction in the proportion of non-exam assessment
the absence of industry in film studies
the over-emphasis upon theory, notably the named list which should be examples rather than compulsory study

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Into Film Festival 2015

Online bookings for the 2015 Into Film Festival are now open! This year’s Festival will take place from 4 – 20 November.

The Into Film Festival is the world’s largest free film and education event for all schools and 5 – 19 year olds – offering film as a valuable resource to support teachers and help bring learning to life, across all subject areas.

The Festival will open this year with an exclusive Pupil Premiere of He Named Me Malala, across 80 UK sites. Malala Yousafzai will take part in a special satellite-linked Q&A following the screenings, answering questions from UK pupils aged 11 – 19 up and down the country.

There are over 100 other film titles available in the extensive Festival programme and all are mapped against relevant subjects. Rich education resources are also available to download for free and are designed to help teachers capture the valuable curricular links from across the four nations.
You can learn more about the benefits of using film to support learning here.

From 4 – 20 November, over 400,000 young people and their educators are expected to attend one of the 2,700+ film screenings and special events, taking place across the UK.

Special events this year include: industry meet and greets, special speaker and Q&A sessions, career information sessions, filmmaking workshops and much more.

Demand is higher than ever this year and spaces are limited so book today to secure your preferred timeslot.

How to book

All places are available on a first come, first served basis and can be booked via:

Website: http://www.intofilm.org/festival
Phone: 020 3194 4311

Screenings are booking up fast so book your places now to make sure you don’t miss out!

It’s quick and easy to book online – simply enter your postcode on the website homepage to discover events happening close to your school. You can also filter by date range, age group, curriculum subject or accessibility.

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MEA Tuesday teachmeets

The Tuesday teachmeets at the English and Media Centre in Islington, held to celebrate the start of the new Goldsmiths/EMC PGCE in Media with English, have been very well attended so far! There are still some tickets left for the fourth one, featuring Julian McDougall, which has been moved to 13th October.

Jenny Grahame’s talk, about practical work across the years, raised lots of interesting issues and gave everyone the chance to see some classroom examples from the early days of Media Studies. Jenny’s presentation is too big to embed here, but much of the material she covered also featured in this talk from last March: HERE

John Potter’s presentation on Primary school children’s use of media in the construction of their own identity drew upon his research published in the excellent Digital Media and Learner Identity We will be uploading extracts from the presentation here soon.

David Buckingham gave an inspiring and highly entertaining talk about the ongoing negotiations to keep media in the curriculum at GCSE and A level. Speaking without slides, David put the attack on media studies into the wider context of the marketisation of education as well as the cultural restorationism of Conservative education policy. He ended with a rallying call for everyone to participate in the consultation, from which the final versions of film and media studies will emerge.

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