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“Where should I go?" Alice. "That depends on where you want to end up." The Cheshire Cat.”

“Where should I go?" Alice. "That depends on where you want to end up." The Cheshire Cat.”

Need some help down the rabbit hole of the new NEAs? In this week's Blog Nick Belger offers more timely and experienced advice on how to get the very best out of your students.

Nick Belger is the Curriculum Leader for English and Media at St. Bede’s CHS in Ormskirk. In addition, he is also part of the Senior Examiners for GCSE Media and an adviser for the new NEA component.

Preparing for the NEA

  • Statements of Intent - 300 words of fun...or that's a single lesson boxed off anyway Steve...
  • The important change in the coursework Rules...2 become 1
  • The Brief debate...How many is too many?

Media teachers experienced or not are now getting to grips with the demands of the NEA requirements (Non Exam Assessment). This is essentially the new version of coursework, albeit in a much more streamlined and strengthened way. It is essential to make the most of the NEA opportunities afforded to the students, particularly as we all face the unknown pleasures of the first iteration of 9-1 in GCSE Media Studies this academic year!

“Where should I go?" Alice. "That depends on where you want to end up." The Cheshire Cat.”

Here is my Statement of Intent Part 1

I’m a nightmare for getting right into box sets and then switching to another one after a few episodes. I’ve been trying to watch Breaking Bad since what seems to be the early eighties and this creates a multiplicity of staffroom-based ‘conflicts’.

What is 'A Statement of Intent'?

It isn’t a trick question. It will, depending on the wording published by various exam boards, simply ask the student to offer an introduction to the actual physical project they will be completing for their NEA/Coursework.

Generally, it will be about 300 words in length and that number should really be adhered to.

Your students will be expected to outline their ideas for their project and be explicit in how they are going to use Media Language and Representation effectively so that their potential audiences will be engaged. It is essential that the students bear these twin concepts in mind when they are planning their projects.

“Where should I go?" Alice. "That depends on where you want to end up." The Cheshire Cat.”

300 words is not that much at all

And while that may sound like a good thing, it is of course absolutely essential that it isn’t 280 words in a narrative comfort zone and 20 technical sounding phrases marbled throughout. 300 words is actually a very tight fit in terms of expressing such important concepts. You’ve read 332 of mine already. We will look more closely at the construction of Statements of Intent in forthcoming versions of this ‘amazingly helpful, profound and often beautiful’ (said literally nobody ever) blog.

“Where should I go?" Alice. "That depends on where you want to end up." The Cheshire Cat.”

Here is my statement of Intent Part 2

The merest hint of “Did you happen to see……?” would be met with a window-shattering bellow of “NO SPOILERS PLEASE!” and be accompanied with the loud humming (for some reason usually The theme from The Apprentice) and hands over ears carry on. The fact that they were actually talking about how extraordinarily annoying Graeme Swann is on Strictly was neither here nor there.

NEA’s need a similarly bold, clear and well organised statement. But better than that ramble above clearly.

“Where should I go?" Alice. "That depends on where you want to end up." The Cheshire Cat.”

I am the one and Only

Another very important amendment to the old coursework process is that the NEA is now fundamentally a one person job. As part of the strengthening requirements imposed by OFQUAL, all collaborative project work was volleyed into touch.

While nobody would for a second, suggest that teachers ever took the opportunity to improve a pupil’s overall chances of success by grafting little Clint into that super strong group of top set techno whizz kids whose radio podcast sounded like a Radio 1 in Ibiza weekend special, (“What did he do Francesca? Did he hold the microphones? Did he untangle those microphone leads? Yes? Well, thinking about it they were a nightmare actually. 15/20”), the simple fact remains that a much greater emphasis on individual student’s work has to be factored into which assignments are chosen.

It is absolutely imperative therefore that you select a brief which you know that particular student will have the best possible chance of doing well in on their own.

Braveheart

That leads us into the whole idea of selecting briefs. Some colleagues we have spoken to have been super-confident and have offered the whole range of briefs for students to cherry pick individually. These means all options are potentially on the table for the class to select. This is, doubtless, the absolute prime approach to offering the most suitable and tailored best-fit opportunity to your students.

“Where should I go?" Alice. "That depends on where you want to end up." The Cheshire Cat.”

But...

Be very careful with this strategy. Offering all available options (up to five in some cases), realistically means that you will have to have a decent understanding of each and every one of those briefs. And, while we mentioned previously, you are not there to offer specific suggestions or improvements, it clearly would be a sensible idea for you to personally have a solid grasp of the theories, skill-sets and logistics required for this vital part of the whole GCSE Media course and the individual assignments your classes are getting to grips with.

So...

One way to go about setting up your classes for the NEA campaign is to limit the choices available to the candidates to a lower number, say two or three. This might allow you to stay more focused on the nuances, technicalities and logistics of each one and make you feel more confident that you have a handle on the progress the students are making.

“Where should I go?" Alice. "That depends on where you want to end up." The Cheshire Cat.”

My Final Statement

Please feel free to email in with any queries you have regarding the previous 970 words of jumbled in-coherency.

Or with suggestions for more box sets. I’ve just started Maniac on Netflix but, if I’m being honest, I literally didn’t understand anything of the first episode. And svelte Johan Hill freaks me out a bit too. But, like we tell our students, “resilience Kevin, resilience! Just keep trying Kevin. Just open the text book Kevin. Todorov was a nice man Kevin yes. Pack away now”.

And yes, that is a Spice Girls reference in the opening bullet points.

“Where should I go?" Alice. "That depends on where you want to end up." The Cheshire Cat.”

Nick was originally from the urban barrios of downtown Liverpool, he has now been exiled to leafy West Lancashire, but would rather be hanging out on the Lower East Side with middle aged New York rockers if he had the chance.