Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

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Re: Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

Post by islandofsodor » Mon Apr 25, 2016 11:08 pm

I know this thread has been about ds but I'll talk about dd now.

She's at vocational dance school & aspires to a career in musical theatre. Her school have actually just got rid of dance GCSE as they say it is a much lower level than the other dance the children do (most have passed Adv 1 by the age of 16)

Dd has chosen to do GCSE music as it has lots of content not necessarily covered elsewhere. It's regarded as a highly academic subject & she enjoys composition as well as performing. She chose not to go drama as she felt things like her LAMDA exams were of more interest to her. You don't need drama GCSE or A level to go to drama school (extra curricular/youth theatre would be expected) but music conservatoire entrants would usually have GCSE music.

With regards to Btec locally to where I live a proper dance school runs a level 3 Btec in conjunction with the FE college. They go way beyond the spec & basically it's like attending a free foundation course. Their main aim is to prepare students for auditions at 18.
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Re: Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

Post by paulears » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:19 pm

Good to hear about the dance school tie-up with the college. Best solution to give a wider, but still deep approach.

I'm a bit less convinced by the music GCSE being a highly academic subject because it's very clearly an arts subject - once of those that is nice to have, but has little real substance outside of the arts area. It contains so little transferable content. It also lacks most of what A Level music contains - the two subjects are extremely different. I see hardly any academic rigour in it at all. It's got some very basic level practical music, and a requirement to learn a few things. Comparing music to say, maths, brings hardly any similarities in academic content. It's also badly taught by many teachers - not all of course, but in lots of schools, music is NOT a strength area. Kids have to play music on keyboards, and some of the teachers can't play the keyboard very well. Sadly, I suspect that being able to strum a few chords and know some basics means the newly qualified teacher gets given music to teach, like the PE specialist teaching dance we talked about the other day.

BTEC allows teachers to use their existing skills by selecting units they have decent skills in. GCSE is a prescription - and the difference between some of the kids getting peripatetic lessons and their teachers can be alarmingly small!

This always gets me into trouble - but I'm basing my comments on my own experience in 7 schools over two counties in about 2 years. So many similarities.

Before I started supply teaching, I remember visiting one school and the music teacher complaining to me about one student who was pretty good but had messed up his course work by being silly on his composition score. He showed it to me. It was a drum score. I went - bum bu-bum crack, bum bu-bum crack crack ting ting bum bum de de dum. He looked at me confused? Sounds ok to me, I said. He then said - you mean you can write down drum music? Why is there X's and circles on the same line? Open and closed hi-hats, I answered. That's really neat he said - I better go and remark his course work. This was GCSE music in a typical high school. The student was my own son - and his D turned into a B shortly afterwards.

My teaching of the subject at other places convinced me little has changed. I also suspect that OFSTED rarely have music specialists - because they too seem to see and hear quite weak music skills and not even comment!

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Re: Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

Post by Rose20 » Sun May 01, 2016 4:44 pm

Thank you for your posts. They have been very helpful =D>

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Re: Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

Post by lawn » Sat May 07, 2016 6:34 am

Hi, I read this thread with interest as my DD who is in yr8 has recently taken her options which now start being taught from the beginning of yr9. They have also introduced pathways this year. She has opted to take GCSE Drama, school offers it and also offers a btec in performing arts and the sixth form course she'd like to progress to asks for a qualification in one or the other (or a related subject at merit grade). We sought advice from her school drama teachers about which course to do.

She also toyed with the idea of taking GCSE Music but this would have had to have been done through singing as she doesn't play an instrument. She decided against it after talking to older students who had taken this subject. She decided that what she wanted to achieve was improving her voice and that could be achieved though private lessons, She already sings twice a week in a group, once with her drama group and once with a musical theatre class.

Hope you've managed to work out what's best for your son to do. :)

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Re: Btec Extended Diploma Level 2 - Paulears?

Post by paulears » Sat May 07, 2016 10:29 am

Lawn's comments are spot on. If somebody has a talent in music, or performing arts, then the dance schools, music lessons and amateur organisations do what schools cannot. In depth, fun and hard work that supports end performances - shows, concerts and events. Schools simply don't do that. If they have a keen teacher and some budget spare, then they do these kinds of things - but always as extra curricular activities, because the system knows that many schools simply don't even have performance spaces, so over the years the requirement for real performances has been written out.

A Level Music still has real musical content, including performance - and it's a subject that probably won't be around for much longer. It costs too much. Money is the big issue with all these things. In Gt Yarmouth - 8 miles away is my old college, in Norfolk. Here in Lowestoft is another college. In Suffolk. Both towns have 180 degrees of their catchment as the sea! Despite being historic competition, they now are merging. No more duplication of subjects. So if they want to do hairdressing they go to Yarmouth, if they want to do Beauty they go to Lowestoft. Yarmouth get Dance, music and Performing Arts, and so on. Bigger classes, so cheaper to run and only one set of teachers. They choose their pathway for cheapness, not student demand. When I first started performing arts in Yarmouth as a new course, we had maybe ten pathways running - all the kids doing their special interest stuff. Excellent results. Now, the choice has gone. The college pick the pathway and that is that. All down to money, not education.

The universities are the only real choice now. Schools are prescriptive, and the colleges getting that way. Colleges are also having to teach art subject kids maths and english, because the standard from school is too poor. Shakespeare with kids who struggle with reading and writing is painful. The maths classes in particular can be the reason for somebody giving up their dance or music. This is awful. My A Level maths from the 70s is now considered invalid for modern teaching. I'm supposed to get re-qualified. In Maths and English. It's now called numeracy and literacy - and I do not have a qualification with those words on. They can get knotted!

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