Media studies: we need more teachers now

5th September 2008 at 01:00
Student demand is outstripping supply for `soft option' subject

Dedicated media studies teachers need to be trained in Wales to cater for a meteoric rise in GCSE uptake of the subject that many describe as a soft option.

According to Jeremy Points, film and media subject officer for WJEC, the exam board, this often maligned discipline is not being taken seriously by Welsh initial teacher training establishments.

An extra 2000 students - equivalent to 14 per cent of this year's Year 11 cohort - sat GCSE in media studies with WJEC. Demand to sit the Welsh language version of the qualification is also up by 200 candidates.

But Mr Points, a former English teacher, says the failure of Welsh institutions to allow exclusive study of his subject is holding it back. The school of education at Swansea Metropolitan University, for example, offers postgraduate certificates in secondary education (PGCE) only in national curriculum subjects that are constantly in demand - such as English and modern foreign languages - and those which attract the most job advertisements.

Mr Points believes academics in Wales must now bow to market forces for the creative arts.

The growth of media and film studies uptake is also evident at A-level: WJEC expects numbers to double as the new specification is introduced in 2009.

However, there has been criticism from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority that media studies exam scripts were "less impressive" than for those for English, a view met with fury by the Media Education Association, the national body for the subject.

Despite rising demand for GCSE, the number of WJEC students passing A- levels at A-grade in media and film studies fell slightly to 16.2 per cent this year.

"I think a lot of the problem is the argument between `high' culture and `low' culture," said Mr Points. "Just because texts may appear to be accessible or even simple that doesn't mean discussion about them is simple."

WJEC now hopes to attract even more candidates for media studies by developing a diploma in creative arts and media tailored to the Welsh baccalaureate.

Media Education Wales is running a two-day course for media and film studies teachers on October 2 and 3 in Nantgarw, near Cardiff. Details on www.mediaedwales.org.uk.

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