Pass with a footie film

2nd May 2008 at 01:00
'Beckham' Brit flick helps to kick off first GCSE on big-screen studies - available only through the Welsh exam board
'Beckham' Brit flick helps to kick off first GCSE on big-screen studies - available only through the Welsh exam board

British movie Bend it Like Beckham tops a list of big-screen hits that pupils can study as part of the first GCSE in film studies.

The story of two teenage girl footballers with different ethnic backgrounds - one from an orthodox Sikh home - was a box office smash in 2002.

The Brit flick is listed alongside Hollywood blockbusters, as well as lesser known movies, in Welsh exam board the WJEC's syllabus, to be taught from this September. The awarding body's A-level syllabus has already proved popular in Wales and over the border.

"Film studies will be available in England and Wales as a GCSE only through the WJEC," said a spokesperson. "Pupils can choose to study a particular film produced outside Hollywood from a set list."

Interest in film-making as a real employment opportunity increased after the announcement that a new film studio is to open in South Wales. It is anticipated that the new Dragon International Studios, dubbed Valleywood, will open in 2010 and welcome a host of Welsh stars, including Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Every awarding body has now launched their respective new-look GCSE specifications.

TES Cymru has already reported on how the England-based OCR board has produced an eye-catching new history syllabus (April 18).

Pupils will get the chance to consider the rights and wrongs of the Iraq war and why people become terrorists.

There will also be questions about action films, such as James Bond and Indiana Jones, in the awarding body's revised media studies spec.

But the WJEC says the exams' growing appeal does not only come down to their subject matter, and has a lot more to do with "personal touch".

Since 2005, the awarding body has seen a 20 per cent increase in exam entries from England and Wales. Increases of 50 per cent have been recorded in some subjects, including the humanities.

Derec Stockley, the WJEC's director of examinations, attributes the rise to the awarding body's approachability and specialist support for teachers.

"All our subject and support officers can be contacted by direct line, telephone and email, and we publicise their contacts widely," he said.

Under draft specifications for 2011, a new course in music will include the study of the great and good in Wales.

Opera singer Bryn Terfel, harpist Catrin Finch and rock band the Super Furry Animals are all mentioned in the hall of fame.

"Welsh music justifiably takes its place in the premier league of a global musical scenario," says the draft spec.

The emphasis on Welsh heritage is also strong in the revised history syllabus, in which students can study the background to the Rhyd y Car cottages, originally traditional Welsh workers' homes in Merthyr Tydfil but now on show at Cardiff's Welsh folk museum.

The new GCSE psychology option also gives pupils a chance to study physical attractiveness and theories of love.

Geography poses some more topical issues, such as the changeable British weather. The subject will be brought up to date, giving pupils a chance to discover whether their homes are at risk of being flooded.

Gareth Pierce, the WJEC's chief executive, is hopeful its user-friendly approach to developing specifications will draw even more teachers to the awarding body.

"We provide for unit assessments to be taken during the two-year course where there are clear educational reasons for doing so," he said, "while also recognising the need to avoid adding to the assessment load on pupils."

The WJEC is running a series of free professional development courses in the autumn on the new specifications.

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