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Drama GCSE problem

(23 Posts)
adramadrama Sat 16-Apr-16 14:21:24

Have NC'd as very specific situation and don't want to out anyone. Apologies in advance for the long post, didn't want to drip feed.

DD is about to sit her GCSEs next month and wants to do an English type degree but ultimately follow a career in drama. She is currently have a meltdown about drama GCSE as she thinks her chances of a good grade have gone and so her future is in jeopardy.
Her school (state selective- takes approx. top 15% of ability) has not had a single A* in GCSE drama in the last 2 years and only 1 (out of 20 students or so) the year before. At A level last Summer it had the worst results of the school with none of the ten or so pupils getting higher than a B grade (don't know about earlier years).
There is only 1 drama teacher at the school. she taught them for Year 10 then went on maternity leave. They had a temporary teacher for Yr11 who left at Easter. The original teacher has just returned, 4 weeks befofe GCSEs begin which seems incredibly disruptive.

This week it has transpired that the original teacher had mistakenly not marked DD's coursework which DD had completed 11 months ago! She marked all the others in the group last May. The teacher has now marked it (within 1 day of DD pointing out she didn't have a mark) but DD is very disappointed with her score- far lower than she expected (she is top of her year in English). I wonder whether this teacher really marked it in the same way as everyone else's given how much time has passed. Do teachers have to get their work internally moderated?

Their teacher told them yesterday that the practical drama assessment will be after school on the day before her GCSEs start although the temporary teacher had said it would be done and dusted way before this. Is this last minute arrangement usual?

She has some less interested kids in her group who don't want to rehearse so she had thought that good marks in written coursework could make up for this.

DD is very upset about the way things are going and was planning to attend a different 6th form on a drama scholarship but it looks like she will not make the grade in the drama GCSE.

She had heard that good marks in written coursework were essential to offset the variability of the practical as so much relies on group work.

Can anyone give me any words of encouragement for DD - is there anything I could or should do about the situation?
DD feels her coursework mark does not reflect what she wrote (and she has never said this about anything else and usually takes stuff on the chin).

I feel like I've really let her down as the teaching of this subject seems pretty poor.

How important is an A* or A in GCSE drama for a competitive English/ drama degree? Ironically she is predicted A* in all her subjects but it is drama at which she feels she performs best and loves the most. I can see her getting her worst grade in her best subject sad and the one she most wants to do well in for her future.

I feel really sad for her.

LIZS Sat 16-Apr-16 14:30:05

Does she do drama outside school? Does she plan to take it at A level? I believe coursework should be internally and externally moderated. Not everyone applying for Drama/theatre studies will have had the opportunity to take it at gcse and/or a level.

titchy Sat 16-Apr-16 14:32:40

GCSE drama is completely and utterly unnecessary for a competitive English or Drama degree, so she need have no concerns on that score.

Don't really know about marking or when the practical should be done, though yes internal markers should be checked by someone else and moderated by the exam board.

adramadrama Sat 16-Apr-16 15:34:47

She is part of a youth theatre group that have put on some productions but there are limited options where we live.
I feel that no drama GCSE would be better then one with less than A*/A as surely it will be seen as her lacking ability in drama.

LIZS Sat 16-Apr-16 15:37:42

It is actually difficult to do really well as drama can be fairly subjective. Could she find a way to supplement it with summer courses, LAMDA exams or participating in an Arts Festival. Tbh it is pretty late to withdraw now and I'd focus on her having practical experience to put in her personal statement.

cathyandclaire Sat 16-Apr-16 15:41:34

Is there a school appeal process for the coursework?
I don't think anyone would think someone with a low GCSE grade in drama has no ability, the marks are horrifically random IME and we've found that those who were better at English Literature seemed bizarrely to perform worse at drama, even when it involved play analysis.
Is she going for drama school/ uni acting courses or academic English and Drama?

Balletgirlmum Sat 16-Apr-16 15:47:08

Drama GCSE grades will have no bearing at all in getting into a drama school type course it will all go on audition.

Dd wants a career in musical theatre & she isn't even taking drama or dance GCSE's.

So don't worry too much but do complain to the school about the coursework mess up.

adramadrama Sat 16-Apr-16 16:00:11

She ideally wants to do an English or English-heavy degree somewhere academic with lots of Uni drama opportunities and then go to drama school after she graduates.

I have never heard of an appeal process for coursework and there is nothing on the school website as far as I can see. Is that something parents have done successfully? As there is only one drama teacher in the school I'm not sure how that would work in practice but it would be wonderful if her mark turned out to be a mistake.
I imagine that her teacher must be very stressed having just returned from mat leave and facing GCSE and A level students' practical assessments in 4 weeks but it seems unfair that DD should be affected, particularly as only she and one other student want to follow a career in theatre.

Zodlebud Sat 16-Apr-16 21:08:54

Drama is not about qualifications but talent and experience. A long term commitment to a local drama group will be "worth" more than GCSE drama.

If she wants to do an English degree then on to drama school then you really don't need to worry.

She is far better looking into NYT and NYMT opportunities, getting herself an agent and volunteering in a local theatre to be honest in the meantime.

I am a mother and sibling of performing arts children. Two sisters at top establishments at 18, one now works in hospitality and the other is retraining to be a drama teacher. It's a tough business.

What does she hope to gain going to drama school after her degree?

cathyandclaire Sat 16-Apr-16 22:29:20

DD1 currently doing a similar Uni English + Drama/extracurricular/ postgrad drama school approach. She seems happy and has done 10 plays/shows in 2 terms! In general, however, everyone we know enjoys the English part of their degree much more than the academic drama side, the teaching seems to be far superior. So straight English worth a thought, of the third years DD knows who are applying for post grad drama schools now, the one who is an English student has done the best (although she is a wonderful actress, so I'm sure that's the reason, not her degree subject.)

Singsongsungagain Sat 16-Apr-16 22:33:24

Coursework deadlines haven't arrived yet (not until May) so there's still time to improve her written coursework mark if she gets on with it. Do you know what the exam board is? Usually there is a need for an external examiner to attend the performances?

andintothefire Sat 16-Apr-16 22:35:47

Does your daughter need drama GCSE for her sixth form scholarship? Is she doing more than 9 subjects? If she doesn't need the GCSE then I would consider dropping it. My sister dropped music GCSE after disappointing mock results (when she was on track for A*s in other subjects) and it was not a problem at all.

BlueGazebo Sun 17-Apr-16 09:01:43

DS wants to continue with his Drama, possibly beyond A Level. Do you think it's really important he does English along with Drama A Level? Would that be English Literature or would Language be OK? What other subject would fit? Philosophy? Psychology? Creative Writing? Does it really matter? He would quite like to do Biology. He is involved in local drama group outside school. Would he be better off doing the college BTEC route?

RedHelenB Sun 17-Apr-16 17:28:45

My dds were told NOT to write it as an English essay. Dd1 took it and it was her lowest mark but she chose it as she enjoyed it even though performance was never her strong point.

BigGreenOlives Sun 17-Apr-16 17:33:40

At parents evening (DD was there too), we were also told that a drama essay is different to an English essay.

EvilTwins Sun 17-Apr-16 18:19:25

If there is only one drama teacher in the school (which there normally is) then it's difficult to do internal moderation, but lots of schools get together and moderate each other's. Do you know which exam board she's doing?

The practical assessment may be out of the teacher's hands - is an external examiner/moderator present? If so, they may have set the date/time. If not, then it's possible that the teacher wanted to leave it as late as possible to maximise prep time.

Don't worry about being able to continue with it though. I teach drama (currently we do L3 BTEC in our 6th form, though I have taught A Level theatre studies as well) and we have one student in Year 13 who didn't take it at KS4 at all. He's on track for getting Distinction grades at the end of this year. I didn't take GCSE or A Level drama at all and did an English/Theatre Studies degree at Warwick.

blue - it depends on what suits your DS really. I think that BTEC is a better preparation for vocational drama courses but I teach in a school where it is on offer alongside A levels rather than instead of - so some of my students do L3 BTEC Diploma as well as A Levels in English, Art or Media. The college courses are usually the Extended Diploma which is done as a full time (equivalent to 3 A Levels) course.

Sparklycat Sun 17-Apr-16 18:41:05

I didn't take gcse drama but took a level, degree and now teach drama.

The teachers marking will be moderated externally by the exam board. Which exam board does she do? There is one that is notably hard to get an A or A* in.

Sparklycat Sun 17-Apr-16 18:43:55

Coursework deadlines haven't arrived yet (not until May) so there's still time to improve her written coursework mark if she gets on with it

No there isn't I'm afraid. Its controlled assessment not coursework these days and it cannot be redone after marking to get higher grades, if it was then the school would get in serious trouble. Controlled assessments are in exam conditions.

bojorojo Sun 17-Apr-16 20:07:49

I think the teaching is to blame here. My dds went to a school where virtually no-one got an A for GCSE Drama, they all got A* and stunning performance is what kept the marks high. It was taken seriously. The results at your school, OP, seem to indicate it is not.

For the girls who wanted Drama as a career, the all did Drama A level and English Lit. However, being able to audition effectively is key so I don't think a GCSE is a big deal. I do know people who have gone to Central, Guildhall and other highly regarded Drama Schools. They all performed regularly. They all did lots more than A level in Drama and did Lamda and Musical Theatre exams as well. Anyone wanting an English Degree must do English Lit but even Cambridge allowed Drama A level as the third A level. The quality of performance is key. You cannot audition with a Drama GCSE!

bojorojo Sun 17-Apr-16 20:08:54

Sorry, it was Theatre Studies A level for Cambridge!

adramadrama Mon 18-Apr-16 01:25:54

Thank you all for your replies.
The exam board is Edexcel - does it have a particularly harsh reputation? There is an external examiner visiting for the performance element but the teacher said they had only finalised the date at the end of last week which seemed rather late.
It is good to know that her Drama grade shouldn't affect her long term prospects but it could well affect her Sixth form education. She needs a minimum of an A* or A grade at GCSE in each of her A level option choices, including drama, for the scholarship and entry to her chosen Sixth form.

We have no experience of performance arts, this is solely DD's choice. I understand that it is a very hard road to follow.

Sparklycat Mon 18-Apr-16 05:27:22

Yes that's the one I was thinking of. It's extremely hard to get into the 'outstanding' grade bands that you need for top marks with them.
It's quite possible that the exam date has only been finalised there's a shortage of examiners this year (again) and its normal for some schools to end up with a different examiner to the one originally assigned if they can't agree a mutually suitable exam date further delaying the process.
I'm sure your daughter will do well, she seems really passionate about it and that will go a long way in the industry!

FishWithABicycle Mon 18-Apr-16 06:00:51

I don't think she needs to worry. Getting a place to study English at uni won't be affected by a poor gcse drama grade. Getting into a drama school after that will be solely about the productions she does during student years and of course the auditions.

Forget academic qualifications and do more to build up her experience. Many theatres have vacation summer schools for older teens. That's the sort of thing she can focus on. She will be competing against people who have lived and breathed dramatic performance for a decade when she comes to apply to drama school so needs to show that she has the determination not to allow any financial or practical barrier to get in the way.

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