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Media diploma has Kylie appeal

WHAT DO Kylie Minogue, Richard Branson, artists Gilbert and George and the German expressionist painter Otto Dix have in common?

They will be among an array of creative people studied by 15 to 16 year-olds on a new media diploma course from September next year, one of three introduced by the exam board OCR.

Dave Pelzer, the American author of the bestseller A Child Called "It", a harrowing autobiographical tale of child abuse, is featured alongside Robbie Williams, Kurt Cobain and rapper Jay-Z.

Mona Hatoum, who created a video installation showing a journey inside her body, is joined by fellow artists Tracey Emin, Pablo Picasso and writer Nick Hornby.

The aim is to help teenagers understand how creative people see themselves, under the heading "Who I am and who am I?"

Students create what is described as an "individual realisation," which could be anything from a piece of clothing to a mime, website or presentation for a job interview.

A further unit of the diploma, on self-promotion, involves studying successful people. Richard Branson appears again, with Rupert Murdoch, Charles Saatchi, JK Rowling, Oprah Winfrey and Giorgio Armani. YouTube is used as an example of a successful internet business.

Ian McNeilly, director of the National Association for the Teaching of English, said teenagers found Dave Pelzer's A Child Called "It" gripping. "It's so shocking," he said. "Some of the lads who've read it would never normally touch a book."

However, Mr McNeilly said the other creative people seemed to have been picked by OCR because they were media-friendly. "Creativity and media profile are often worlds apart," he said. "Just look at the pop chart."

Jenny Graham, a consultant and teacher trainer at the English and Media Centre, a trust which provides training and resources, was involved in discussions on the outlines of the diploma.

"There is a huge focus on collaborative work." It was not just about individual inspiration, she said.

Only one of the three new diplomas recently unveiled by OCR features an exam at level 2, the equivalent of GCSE.

Instead, students on the engineering diploma will be filmed for ten minutes answering questions. An external invigilator will witness the interview, off camera.

Only one of the seven media units is assessed externally. In contrast, the IT diploma features an exam and an external test.

Professor Alan Smithers of Buckingham university said that as diplomas will count in the school league tables, teachers would have a vested interest in high scores. But how could they make sure scores were fair, he asked.

Martin Ward, deputy general secretary of the Association of Schools and College Leaders, said: "There is currently too much reliance on written tests. Much more should be done by teachers."

The level 3 diplomas in engineering, IT and media, the equivalent of A-levels, have a similar level of internal assessment to level 2. OCR's specification mentions a test for engineering students and an exam for the IT course, but not for media.


(OCR specifications)

Engineering: An overview of the impact of engineering on the world is followed by the study of different products and engineering in computers. This is combined with practical work on electronic systems and manufacturing a product.

IT: Starts with an overview of the subject in the 21st century, before looking at organisations and working in teams. Pupils examine multimedia products and how IT can solve business problems.

Creative and media: Pupils consider the media world in general, then study how products and performances are promoted. They examine the sources of their own creativity and learn how to respond to a brief. This is followed by a look at group performance skills and digital technologies.

(Edexcel specifications)

Construction and the built environment: Pupils develop knowledge of materials available for use in the construction industry, including sustainable materials. They learn how to apply design principles before studying structures, tools and the value of the built environment for communities.

Society, health and development: Pupils consider values and personal development before learning how to work together, protect individuals and encourage healthy living. They then examine antisocial behaviour, how to support young people and healthcare.

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