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Talk to me about Drama and Ancient Greek GCSEs please?

(30 Posts)
RitaCrudgington Thu 02-Jul-15 18:31:21

DD is coming to the end of year 8, so vaguely thinking about GCSE choices that she'll be making next year.

She's at an academically selective school and will be doing 3 sciences and at least 1 MFL. She fancies Latin, which she's very good at, and is thinking about Ancient Greek (pushed by not entirely disinterested Latin teacher) and/or Drama as her optional choice(s).

Could anyone tell me a bit more about what those subjects involve at GCSE? I don't have any particular feelings either way - it's just that I've no personal experience of either subject and I'm curious as to what you actually do for a GCSE in either. Does Drama have a horrific workload like Art? Does Ancient Greek at GCSE make any kind of sense given that many (most?) undergraduates will come to it fresh?

(Of course I know whatever anyone says will be out of date by 2018 when Govebots will be reading the answers to the questions directly from each student's brain).


TeenAndTween Thu 02-Jul-15 18:45:49

DD has just completed y11 and did Drama.

The workload was less than other subjects, though maybe it would have been better if they had actually done some practice coursework write ups. She didn't have any exams (except the final performance which was straight after Easter), so it was good to have one subject out of the way before the final exam period. Can't remember which board (AQA or Edexcel). At least one board does have exams though.

Warning for Drama - it depends on you being able to get on with others, and on other people being available for rehearsals. Other subjects you can be more independent.

Drama was a good break from the sit-at-desk lessons, as it very much a moving around lesson. So DD found it a welcome change when drama lessons came about.

RitaCrudgington Thu 02-Jul-15 18:57:43

Thanks TAT. Good point about having to work with others. Knowing DD, I foresee potential for the wrong kind of drama arising.

IndridCold Thu 02-Jul-15 19:40:24

Just to second what TAT said about drama. DS was in one group for at least the second year, and as they had to work together on their improvised piece it is important that they get on together and that everyone pulls their weight. There was a fair bit of drama queenerie (I wondered at one point whether it was actually on the syllabus) but all went well eventually.

For Greek DS did find the first year a bit of a slog of grammar and vocabulary learning, so much so that he almost dropped it. However, he really enjoyed the second year when they were concentrating on the set texts, which he has always liked, and he has in fact chosen it for A level. He said the exam was very easy, but we still waiting for the actual results smile.

If your DD is even remotely considering readings Classics later, then I would definitely do the GCSE, as it will save time later.

Ladymuck Thu 02-Jul-15 19:55:47

Ds headed down the Greek/Latin/MFL route. He found that having 2 or 3 vocab tests a week to be quite exhausting, and that he missed some of the more fun lessons (he hadn't chosen any creative subjects which we found to be a mistake - for him). So I'd look at the overall balance of what the lessons are like - Greek v similar to Latin in terms of GCSE course I think.

In terms of applying to university to do classics, yes, many undergrads will come to Greek as beginners, but that is because not many schools offer it at either GCSE or A level. As a result university Classics departments tend to be very familiar with which schools teach Ancient Greek especially at A level, and I expect wouldn't view a student who had declined to study Greek where it was available in the same light as one who didn't have the option.

RitaCrudgington Thu 02-Jul-15 20:07:28

I'd be surprised if she ended up doing a Classics degree tbh, I just thought that it seemed an odd sort of GCSE since so few people start studying it at that age - it's an entirely new idea to me.

summerends Thu 02-Jul-15 20:26:01

Rita would she be able to have a trial of Ancient Greek before she chooses? The school may at least give them a taster particularly if there are other strong contenders for her options like the Drama. From what I am told basically it is like any other language, the excitement of novelty as a beginner, then some tougher phases including until the alphabet becomes easy to read. The grammar is easier initially than Latin.
Some schools only really give school play parts to drama GCSE or A level students so if she is very keen on drama that would be worth finding out about in case it sways her decision.

I find it difficult to believe that a University would penalise a potential student for not choosing Greek in year 9, particularly if a student has had no prior experience and would n't really know enough about Latin to make a decision for A levels, let alone University.

summerends Thu 02-Jul-15 20:28:51

If she does n't like Latin that much then no reason to do Greek. It would be better for her to do a creative subject she likes or for example a second MFL.

Unexpected Thu 02-Jul-15 20:30:19

Drama may depend on the exam board but in DS1's case (can't remember which exam board but possibly Edexcel) it involved two written assignments, worked on over a good period of time, and a group performance which they had to put together themselves based around a given theme. The difficulty I see with group work is that you are reliant on the weakest member of the group. DS1's group of 5 contained 2 or 3 people who either weren't very interested in Drama or were just generally disorganised and lazy which meant that a few weeks before the exam performance they were woefully under-rehearsed. With a lot of prodding from the teacher they got it together and DS1 got an A overall (not sure about anyone else) but it was a source of unnecessary stress just before the main exams started. From memory he also only got a B in the performance when he was capable of more but was helped by A*s in the written assignments.

Katymac Thu 02-Jul-15 20:37:33

I would also suggest that Drama can be tricky if all the people involved don't actively want to be there

DD did BTEC and barely scrapped a pass in groups with disinterested pupils - her friend got a higher grade which she was amazed at 'as DD was better at Drama than her' because her groups were more engaged

In context DD is now at college doing Musical Theatre which has a reasonable Drama component......

This may be less of an issue at your daughters school

RitaCrudgington Thu 02-Jul-15 20:48:09

Indeed, totally disaffected classmates shouldn't be too much of a problem Katymac: it's a "B grades are not an option" school. But I'm worried about the potential for intergroup trauma if someone is perceived to be letting the rest down.

Katymac Thu 02-Jul-15 20:54:52


Its a tricky age group anyway & pre-exam jitters can push anyone over the edge - even a teacher (who told DD she couldn't pass GCSE Business however well she did in the exam because her coursework was so poor because we had asked for DD not to do it as she had too much on her plate with audition/classes/stress/GCSEs that mattered (english & maths) & then she passed anyway!!)

RitaCrudgington Thu 02-Jul-15 21:03:19

Thanks all. It feels a bit less alien now and I'll have a bit more sense of what to ask at next year's parents' evenings.

unlucky83 Thu 02-Jul-15 21:46:32

DD1 is doing national 5 (Scottish equivalent to GCSE - but they do at 15) in Drama. She's doing Drama because I felt it was a break from sitting at a desk all day (she has ADHD and the rest of her subjects are 'dry' - sciences, MFL etc ). I also think drama - performing - is useful in developing confidence and for professions where you have to give presentations etc.

It seems that you won't have this problem but the Scottish curriculum states that for 2nd and 3rd year everyone had to study at least one 'arts' subject (from Drama, music, art). Drama was considered the 'easiest', so the one chosen by the most badly behaved /unmotivated children - so up to this year she didn't learn a lot because there was a lot of disruption in the class. Now they have made their exam choices and she is in the higher National 5 group (there is a National 4 group as well) it seems much much better but still early days (she's only been in this group since the beginning of June -they start the 'next' year a few weeks before the summer holidays)

Millymollymama Thu 02-Jul-15 22:23:52

Both my DDs did drama GCSE. Both loved it and got A*s and dropped just a couple of marks. The key to Drama is having a good teacher and working with a like minded group . My DDs did a written exam but the performance element was top class and they really enjoyed it! How well does the school do in drama ? Is it a popular and well taught subject? What is the theatre or performance area like? Is it taken seriously?

I would also consider a second MFL rather than Greek or Latin . It gives lots more options for degrees and can lower offers if you do a joint honours with a MFL.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 02-Jul-15 22:45:30

My dd did AQA drama. They had to do several performance pieces of different types ( scripted,devised, physical theatre etc) as controlled assessments but could discard a couple of them. Fortunately most of her groups worked pretty well, and the teacher did seem to have a good idea who was putting the effort into the devising and rehearsals etc. Those were 60% of the marks, then an exam in which they were supposed to relate to the pieces in their answers but they could actually make it up eg say they'd used some rehearsal technique even if they hadn't.

It made a bit of a change from the academic subjects and we encouraged her to do it as she's a bit shy but really enjoyed performing in inter-house dramas in ks3.

I think drama is one of those subjects where it's a particularly good idea to check the school's results from previous years - probably indicates whether group work usually goes well or not.

RitaCrudgington Thu 02-Jul-15 22:48:49

I think they take the drama pretty seriously. I was startled to see that the programme DD brought home for a school play listed professional credits for several of the children performing. And DD and her mates stayed behind after school one week (voluntarily) to attend performances of all of the GCSE Drama shows which I guess means it's high profile in the school.

Tryingtokeepalidonit Fri 03-Jul-15 05:22:27

DD2 is currently studying Medicine and says GCSE Drama is probably the GCSE that has been the most useful to her! Lots of role-play in her degree.

unlucky83 Fri 03-Jul-15 10:52:53

I agree - I can't think of many professions that aren't directly related that art or music can be useful for. Drama -the ability to act - I can.
Even customer service type roles - where you are feeling lousy or just had a big argument etc and then you have to serve a customer with a smile on your face. (I did some waitressing at one point in my life, I found the best way to treat the most obnoxious customers was to be utterly charming and overly helpful... it is a skill to do that convincingly when you actually want to punch them tell them where to go and exactly what you think of them wink)

Millymollymama Fri 03-Jul-15 11:25:02

In that case, Rita, I would say your DD has a good chance of enjoying Drama and doing well in it. Check the results from previous years, but it is a useful subject and goes well with English Lit.

halvedfees Fri 03-Jul-15 11:33:09

My son did both Ancient Greek and Drama at GCSE (as well as Latin).

He scraped an A* in Drama, though he was glad he did it as it was a break from all the desk stuff. However there is a lot of critical analysis in Drama, being good at Eng lit/lang really helps.

As for A. Greek I think it makes you a bit different from the crowd, especially if you're going for competitive subjects/universities. It is hard, but it is effectively code-breaking, hence a lot of the code-breakers at Bletchley Park during WW2 were recruited directly from the Oxbridge classics dept! It is also very good for broadening your knowledge of the world today - crisis, economy and democracy are all Ancient Greek words/ideas. You also touch on some Ancient Philosophy as well.

Do Greek - you know you want to wink

RitaCrudgington Fri 03-Jul-15 14:09:19

Good point about transferable skills from Drama. I've never let my utter lack of acting talent get in the way of a little bit of comedic am dram, and I'm sure it's helped me develop solid public speaking skills which are brilliant for career progression.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 03-Jul-15 16:00:59

If DD hadn't done Drama I'm not sure what would have happened to her German - she totally bottled her first attempt at speaking CA, couldn't get a word out. The teacher was surprised as she'd seen DD in a comedy role so essentially the advice was to 'act the part of someone who can speak German' grin.

Thymeout Fri 03-Jul-15 20:46:19

If she's good at Latin, and enjoys it, I'd definitely recommend she does Greek. It will give her a definite advantage if she goes on to do history, philosophy or literature, let alone set her up nicely for a Classics/Ancient History degree. And most independent school Classics candidates at university entrance will have done Greek.

Most schools offer Drama. It seems a pity to waste the opportunity when so few state schools offer Greek. No contest when it comes to which is more impressive on an application form.

summerends Fri 03-Jul-15 23:14:24

Thymeout there are lots of good reasons to do Greek particularly if enthused by ancient history and the stories. However as discussed above well taught drama can also be very useful aswell as fun. Anecdotally I know of a young man who has just got 4 good offers for medicine and attributes that at least in part to the fact that doing drama A level (alongside the usual sciences and maths) made him a more interesting candidate.

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