News Archive March 2016





1. What is it?

A 93 page consultation with 24 questions to answer by March 24. It refers only to NEA (non-examined assessment i.e. coursework) in Film and Media studies at GCSE and AS/A level.

2. What has already been decided?

The percentage allocated to coursework has been set at 30%; group work will no longer be allowed in either subject, though there are some points about new rules on non-assessed students helping out with projects.

3. What are they consulting on?

Of the 30%, it is proposed that:
• in Film Studies, 10% goes to evaluation, and 20% for the production itself
• In Media Studies, the full 30% is allocated to production, with the evaluation component in the exam.

They want to know your views on this. They also want your views on:
• whether individuals should be allowed to have non-assessed helpers on their projects,
• whether exam boards should be able to choose whether coursework is marked by centres or by the board.

In our view, the most significant part of the consultation is on the setting of tasks. Ofqual proposes that a different task or set of optional tasks is set each year in each subject by each exam board, no earlier than June 1st of the year preceding the final assessment (in other words June of Year 10 for GCSE or June of Year 12 for A level). For many specifications, this would represent a major change of practice, since currently, the same tasks are set year on year.

There are implications to changing this practice which we do not believe Ofqual have thought through. They argue that if tasks are set too early, this results in an undue focus on the coursework assessment task. We believe that changing the task every year will create problems of comparability and continuity.

If exam boards offer a choice of tasks, centres have some scope to play to the strengths and interests of their students. If those tasks are available for several years, it also gives the opportunity to learn from experience and to make good use of resources. If tasks had to be changed every year, this would be a disincentive to offer a range of choices, since exam boards would quickly run out of tasks. It would also be highly disruptive to centres – one year the main task could be a music video, the next a documentary, and so on. Current practice of offering tasks for several years also means that a clear sense of standards can be established, with comparability year on year. This would be much harder to achieve if each year the task has to be completely different.

4. What should we do?

For the last consultation on the subject areas, the DFE and Ofqual only received about 50 responses on each area- film, media, GCSE and A level. Such a low turnout means that they can largely ignore teacher concerns, as they did on the abandonment of group work and the absurd inclusion of a list of ‘theorists’ for A level media, which has subsequently become even more bizarre. This time around we need several hundred responses, to give us a much greater chance of having an impact.

The argument that knowing the task too early will lead to too much time being devoted to the coursework needs to be challenged. There is no evidence that this has been a problem in the past, so why would it be in the future?

We would urge you to fill out the consultation, as individual teachers, as departments and to get the support of Heads, parents and ex-students to fill it out as well.

The key area for us is to challenge the idea of changing coursework every year and setting a new task every June. We would urge you to challenge this in response to questions 5, 7, 9 and 11.