This academic year we started the BTEC in Performing Arts Level 1 / 2 Award and were faced with a range of issues. Since changing to GCSE, over 5 years ago, a lot had changed – from the marking and grading, to the unit specifics, terminology use and the weighting of units. Lucy and I felt like we were back to square one…Many see the BTEC as a ‘soft’ option, but anyone who has had to deliver one will know, this is far from the case.
Many hurdles were tackled by visiting a partnership centre. For us that is Burnside in Wallsend where the Drama teacher, besides someone who went to University with me and hosted me for my PGCE training, has been delivering the BTEDC for over 10years and is a Lead Verifier with Edexcel. A day visit, much resource sharing and taking pictured of work left me feeling less overwhelmed and instead Lucy and I looked at how we could personalise our BTEC provision here at CLV whilst meeting Edexcel requirements and CLV Marking Policy.
Within BTEC students work is an ongoing development – progressing from lower level standards through to their best ability. This goes for both practical and written components. Our students complete a ‘log’ or Drama ‘diary’ that documents their development from the start of the course through to the end of each unit. For our Unit 3: Acting Skills this notebook proved challenging for many. From a literacy perspective we were facing many issues; how to analyse skills, use of specific terminology, being evaluative and critical and the largest challenge of all: death by description!
Resources were the key to this; creating a bank of useful resources that were accessible to our students but also saved us from writing the same feedback each time. Sentence starters, model work and ultimately our feedback sheets:
The standard of work started to noticeably develop. Students, who had previously been writing ‘log’ entries at only a side of A5 in their notebooks, were developing, expanding and improving their work. The path to success was evident on their feedback sheets and all levels of students responded well to their ‘path’ or their ‘journey’ to success in Drama.
Fortunately we can add and develop work in creative ways. Places where work needed expanding were seen through detailed postit notes that provided analytical justification and development and prompted by the feedback sheets. SEND/PP students liked the structure and were able to sit, read and think about their feedback before responding; rather than automatically calling for my support. Using images as a recall and recap device also helped. The weaker students in the room were able to remind themselves in a visual way that stopped any ‘I can’t remember’ proclamations.
Consequently we wanted to know we were on the right track and sought out the Lead BTEC guy at Edexcel. The specialist offered support and guidance early on which enabled us to tailor our feedback to be more specific; requirements for more analysis and supporting examples. Sending him photos of our logs and receiving his feedback lead to lessons focused on ‘upgrading’ and ‘sticking it to the exam board’ with their awesomeness! This in turn aided the work development with those who genuinely want to develop, exhibiting this in their written work.
Our logs were initially a scary thing for us. In Drama we have become very adept at controlled assessments, marked for the exam boards, trained in coursework examination and shared good practice with the Drama social network. However this was a whole new area for us.
Things that we found hugely beneficial were open conversations with students, knowing what they needed and whether the sheets worked. Now it’s second nature; written lessons involve focused and driven individuals that know where they are going and how they need to achieve it. Support sessions on a weekly basis offer those who want to push themselves, the space and support from us to do that along with extra verbal feedback.
We still have a long way to go and our first centre visit will really provide the best feedback but being more creative with the way we present this feedback has definitely been a learning journey. I’d love to see how anybody else collates their feedback so please drop me a line!