Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

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islandofsodor
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Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

Post by islandofsodor » Tue Apr 19, 2016 12:40 pm

We may have to change ds's school At the moment he attends an academically selective school who only offer GCSE's. They choose their options at the end of year 9. He is very musical.

Our local state school appears to have a 3 year Key Stage 3 so unless ds opted for music he would have to drop music at the end of Year 8. At the moment his current school has a thriving music department. Although ds isn't classical he is more pop/MT he is studying a lot of music theory/analysis and is really enjoying it. His marks for music are his highest grades at the moment.

The local school don't offer gcse music but only do the level 2 extended diploma. They seem to have different "pathways" according to academic ability. The btec course sounds very enjoyable with music tech etc but I wonder if its meant for the less academic children. Although I could see ds in the future doing a btec diploma instead of A levels I wonder about it at GCSE level. Ds has an asd which is our sole reason for possibly needing to move him from his current school.
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lynne
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Re: Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

Post by lynne » Tue Apr 19, 2016 1:14 pm

Hi
I can only comment from our experience of GCSE music. My daughter is in year 11 at the moment and is fairly academic but is interested in musical theatre big time. At the end of year nine she decided to take music GCSE as she really loves singing. For her it was a big mistake as GCSE music is nearly all about learning about 12 set pieces in detail and answering questions about them, many of them classical pieces.The performance element at GCSE is so so small!There is also a small element about composing but in her school the emphasis is definitely on the 12 set works. My advice would be to find out about the content of the courses studied by the exam board before making any decisions. It really depends what your son wants to get out of it? For my daughter it was about improving her performance , which it most definitely has not succeeded in doing! My daughter is now going to do a two year extended level 3 diploma in performing arts instead of A levels as for her the next stage would hopefully be drama school. After going to move it last year and talking to all the drama schools the general consensus was that it was all down to audition not exam grades! So doing A levels was not going to prepare her for the auditions where as the BTEC is more practical based and hopefully will. The BTEC level 3 diploma still gives you ucas points like A levels for entry to uni although I presume if you have a change of heart in subject you will still need to do A levels. We discussed this but decided even if she does have a change of heart (unlikely!) you can do A levels at the open university! Hope this helps with your decision! :D

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Re: Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

Post by paulears » Tue Apr 19, 2016 4:55 pm

Glad to help if I can. I got into amazing hot water recently when I got asked for my opinion on something by a newspaper, and I've been machine gunned by numerous teachers, but I really believe things are far from good with arts based GCSEs - oddly, apart from the old fashioned 'art'.

My job has always been music and performing arts, and I taught it in college - 16+. When I stopped teaching it (and verifying/examining it) I didn;t intend doing it again, but frankly - I got a bit bored and I missed the kids, so when I got asked to be a supply teacher, I said OK, despite never having taught in a school. My qualifications were ok, and I gave it a go.

What got me into hot water was this. GCSE Music and Drama are pretty poor qualifications. On paper, they are actually pretty good, but they're being warped in schools to allow them to be taken by not just top set kids, but everyone. Clearly to many of the kids I have been given to teach, both subjects are unsuitable for people who have no interest. The actual time limits, for example, that the kids must do for their performance element might be as little as 5 minutes! A piece of drama with 4 kids is allowed a minimum time slot of 20 minutes - but it's 10 minutes if there are two kids. Clearly, the specification is not meant to be divided up like this, but the rules enable the teachers to do it.

In practice, 16 +A Levels and BTEC can be considered the same level - the only flexible part is that BTEC is a width variable qualification - so depending on the pathway, they do activities that are the same depth, but with different numbers of units to make the qualification, and the eventual UCAS points.

In theory, all BTEC units have the same worth, but some places choose them very carefully to be able to do certain things. Maybe a two year BTEC for the 16-18 people is designed to have the skill building units in year one and then the performance components in year two - ending with a proper musical, or play as their major project. First years might be drafted into the second year show to use as the basis for their first year study. Bigger centres make a damn good job of this, and what they learn really helps their careers.

The same system happens at Level 2 with the BTEC system - same level, but varying pathways that are just a few, or a lot of units.

In schools, they seem to apply their GCSE 'craftiness' to the BTEC, with some kids clearly not that good at it, but BTEC is unfairly seen as easier, when it shouldn't be, but the clever teachers can manipulate the content. All that said, I have now taught A Levels and BTEC Level 3, and now GCSE and BTEC Level 2 in schools (and BTEC L2 in colleges too).

My conclusion is a bit sad. Drama and Music GCSE is done badly with the lower groups - progress and content pretty poor. 30 kids, 2 per keyboard in a music class. All playing with headphones - and two kids to a keyboard is crazy! I had to tell when they were doing from watching their fingers - which actually works quite well, and you can see who is musical, and who absolutely is not. They also have loads of percussion to bang wildly, and often a pile of impossible to play nasty Spanish style guitars. At many of the schools I go to, the middle class kids have peripatetic music lessons - I've seen strings, piano, woodwind and brass this year. These kids find the music GCSE pretty easy. The non-musical kids find it impossible.

If a school opts for BTEC music instead of GCSE, I believe there is cope for better grades because the teacher pick a pathway that appeals to their student's stronger areas. This is the great thing with BTEC.

BTEC, GCSE and A Levels are just different. They cover different areas, and have very different content. Educationally, they're all on par with the Level 2 or Level 3 Government standards.

Seeing what I have seen in this past year at perhaps 8 or so different schools, no one qualification is 'better', just more appropriate.

Interestingly, the advice being given on the performing arts backstage versions of this forum has also changed. It was always BTEC - for perhaps the past ten years. Recently, however, they are now telling students in year 11 who ask "what next?" Maths, English and a Science at A Level. A bit of a swap with performing. Mainly because these subjects are now creeping into job ads - people asking for artistic, technical AND academic qualifications. Rose Buford and LIPA now like the idea of maths and physics, because the subject they are teaching is now very complex.

The Government are pushing exam boards to remove theatre visits from the GCSE syllabus - making them optional. Cue outcry from the industry. The truth though, is that studying Stanislavsky, Brecht and Shakespeare is received very badly by the kids in the lower sets with little interest in the real subject.

To Islandofsodor - the linking of pathways to academic ability is a crafty way to engage the less able kids. Give them a choice of units that appeal is a better way of gaining good grades. Losing the dull units (and there are some dreadfully dull ones in the list) and picking up some more interesting ones is a sensible move, and has no impact on the value of the course, apart from making it easier to get better grades, by engaging them.

Frankly, the school will be putting together programmes that offer extra value to the kids. They'll benefit from a course sensibly planned.

I'd really not worry about this, because the schools have OFSTED and the Governors to keep happy, and the best way to do this is to get the best results in the kids exams. No school will put into place a system that gets worse grades. It will be very difficult to adjust to for you as a parent. See if you can find out the proper names of the units, the pathways and how they are taught and delivered to the kids. Let me have them and I'll tell you if any are odd, or unusual, or maybe even pointless.

I really don't like GCSE drama and music. They're bland, quite dull, and to a degree, rather pointless if you have a performing child. In one school, with not that able music kids, they were doing "She'll be coming round the mountain" and "Londonderry Air" - hardly likely to interest a typical modern child. Madness they were expecting this material to stimulate their learning.

islandofsodor
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Re: Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

Post by islandofsodor » Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:55 pm

I'm on my phone so not easy to link but I'll PM you the link to the school website as obviously I don't want everyone to know where we are. It's seems to be a very music technology/performance based qualification they've chosen at our local school.

The school he is at the moment is very traditional. Performance, composition, analysis. Most kids taking it will be around Grade 4-5 standard at least. The music teacher is fabulous (but there are other issues with the school which is why ds may be moving)

Dh is actually a teacher but not if GCSE or a level. He teaches on the Level 6 Trinity Diploma.

We do have another fee paying option which would be for ds to go to a specialist performing arts school on the music or drama strand but I'm not sure that's what he wants.
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Re: Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

Post by islandofsodor » Tue Apr 19, 2016 9:02 pm

When I said pathway by the way I didn't mean within music. What I meant was that top set kids have to do triple science & however many number of GCSE's. Lower set children do double science & maybe some GCSE's with diplomas etc in various subjects like PE or music or health & social care etc.
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Re: Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

Post by lotsolaffs » Tue Apr 19, 2016 10:27 pm

I think a problem is that sometimes options are chosen too early .At my DD ' S school it is year 8.Of course they all want to do drama,photography, performing arts and dance,they seem such fun and how nice to study an easy subject. NOT!

She has just finished GCSE performing arts intensive in y9, one lesson each day .She has loved it but has had masses of course work which she didn't realise,that combined with clubs,lessons,homework and having some downtime has proved stressful.This is the last year that the school will offer this GCSE which is a shame,they offer BTEC L3 in 6th form but you can't do another 'arts' subject.
She wanted to do music but was told by a supply teacher at options evening that she couldn't as she didn't play an instrument, she was furious to hear that at least 7 students did do music using their voice as an instrument, they have all struggled and she is glad now that she didn't do it.I can't fault her teachers,they have been great. Well...unless she doesn't get an A* then I will be livid with them!
May I say paulears I consider you a sort of guru in performing matters.

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Re: Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

Post by mrs_lovett » Tue Apr 19, 2016 11:00 pm

Islandofsodor- I am Head of Performing Arts at a state school, teaching music at GCSE.The current GCSEs are being replaced with the new 1-9 qualification for teaching from this Sept so your son would be taking this if he opted for it. The music GCSE has more theory and analysis with set works and the performance value is going to diminish from 40% to 25% so it is worth being aware of this. If your school's music department is thriving and forward thinking, it would be a great shame to leave this but I also think having the odd btec at level 2 isn't going to make much of a difference to his future options. I only teach music btec at level 3, not level 2, but these are also changing, with the addition of examined units and far less choice and flexibility. Btecs have been fabulous for my performance based students in the past, but I feel quite strongly that they lack theory and you can get a distinction with very limited theoretical knowledge but excellent practical or creative skills.

I personally wouldn't leave the school if you're happy with it in every other way. GCSE Music and Drama are both fantastic courses and btecs offer a lot in terms of flexibility and vocational training. However, a huge amount of what your son will learn is down to the quality of the teaching regardless of the qualification.

My daughter is very academic but has a keen interest in IT and animation- the only suitable course offered at her school in IT is a btec and I wouldn't hesitate to let her take this course as long as she balanced it with a range of other GCSEs.

Hope this helps.

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Re: Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

Post by islandofsodor » Tue Apr 19, 2016 11:17 pm

The reason he may have to leave his current academically selective school (the one offering GCSE music) & go to the one offering Btec is because his current school seem unable/unwilling to accommodate his needs with regards to his asd & indeed seem to have very little understanding of it. (Not the music teacher though - he's great)

My dd is in year 9 & she'll be the first cohort for the new 1:9. She loves composition as well as performing (she attends a specialist dance school)
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Re: Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

Post by paulears » Wed Apr 20, 2016 11:09 am

The ASD is tricky - a good friend has 3 kids who are all at different places in the spectrum. My gut reaction to your problem is that BTEC might be less suitable, because there is a split in the style. DD might find the research, analysis and individual activity sections an easy place to get top class results, grade wise - but BTEC also puts great emphasis on group activities - often giving the students individual roles in projects, making reliance on others, and interpersonal skills pretty vital. Sadly, I've seen a bit of exclusion in group work in performing arts where some learners tend to do less well. That's possible in GCSE too, but I suppose if the school understand and can cope, that's more important.

Maybe it boils down to the teacher-student relationship. If you have a good teacher, perhaps that's more critical than the course.

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Re: Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

Post by islandofsodor » Wed Apr 20, 2016 12:44 pm

Thanks for the reply & PM.

It's not just music that's the issue too as in the potential new school all top set children have to do triple science. He may not be in the top sets, but he might, & he dislikes science.
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Re: Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

Post by paulears » Wed Apr 20, 2016 6:18 pm

I'm a bit biased, I guess, but maths, english and science are the things that are important for long term careers. Most of my old students hated maths, and most considered science awful - I now note many are now teachers, and some have Masters Degrees, and all had to get their maths and science up to speed. One of my old dancer friends - the typical am drammer since she was first at the local ballet school, ended up doing a BSc, and is now a dance physiotherapist. The truth seems to be that no matter what wonderful dance or acting college you go to, most eventually have a non-performing career, once the west end chorus and the cruise ship work gets a bit dull. This is the point when your old qualifications pop up and help or hinder. Lovely as liking something is, maybe we should ask how good they are at it? You get far better pay and conditions outside performing arts. Special though it is, for most people it has a date stamp on it.

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Re: Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

Post by islandofsodor » Wed Apr 20, 2016 6:44 pm

He's pretty poor at science but manages to keep up with maths. His strengths are music, Computers, Drama, geography & languages.

He struggles with science & writing huge disparity between verbal & non verbal reasoning.)
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Re: Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

Post by paulears » Wed Apr 20, 2016 7:57 pm

What's the old saying? Work to your strengths! Computers and languages could be the key ones? Music goes well with computers, especially with BTEC Music at Level 3 - where much of the focus links those two.

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Re: Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

Post by Rose20 » Mon Apr 25, 2016 7:08 pm

Hi,
I've been watching this thread with interest and wondered if any of you could help with our dilemma.
If a child could choose between music, drama or dance for GCSE, A level or BTEC, which is regarded higher and/or the most useful for a child who is interested in musical theatre?
Dance is part of P.E at her school and she takes lessons in dance, drama and singing outside of school. She needs to choose her GCSE's next year and we would like her options to allow her to persue a musical theatre career but not to rule out other careers that she is also interested in, which include teaching maths!

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Re: Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

Post by paulears » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:15 pm

Good question - which is regarded higher?

In reality it depends on what they want to do after 18. The thing to remember is that some like BTEC and UAL are vocational education, while A Levels are essential memory and reasoning.

If there were such a thing as an A Level in being an electrician, then the exam question would perhaps ask:
Describe what steps would be necessary to fit a two 13A sockets into a new bedroom.

The candidate would say
"I would use 2.5mm2 flat twin and earth cable to create a ring main protected with a 32A type B MCB in the consumer unit"

The BTEC version would say. Fit two 13A sockets into a room safely. They'd then give the student a bag of bits and if they could plug a kettle in and make a cup of tea, that would be the decider!

So if you want practical, and fairly advanced skills from your 16-18 year education BTEC works. If, however, you want to be a lawyer, A Levels work better, because memory and the ability to think out of the box is perhaps more critical.

Universities understand what is in both. Very often, A Level students suffer badly at auditions, unless they've been doing their drama or dance at a proper school - when they have their practical abilities as a separate thing.

I always worry a bit when school dance is run by the PE department. If as in some schools, it means a real dancer is attached to the PE dept, all is well, but lots of dance is taught by the PE specialist who had some dance classes growing up, and it's frequently cardio based activities that fit in well with the PE lot!

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