Sadly a picture is no longer worth 1000 words


All Change Please! has recently had cause to learn a bit more about the forthcoming changes to A level examinations in Art & Design. Yes, that’s right, the ones that Michael, Mickey the Mixter Gove wants to make ‘more rigorous’. Anyway at a cost rumoured to be not that short of the amount Facebook recently paid for WhatsApp, vast amounts of tax payers’ money was allegedly spent on highly paid executive consultants, university professors and exam board directors in an attempt to develop higher A level specifications that would better prepare students for the higher demands of higher education. And after the usual round of excellent lunches, luxury hotels and personal visits from the dfSS to remind them that they didn’t want to end up unemployed, now did they?, they all simultaneously came up with and agreed on exciting new initiative that would do the job nicely. Yes, they decided that in future students taking Art & Design at A level would all be required to write a 1000+ word ‘continuous prose’ essay on something or other to do with Art & Design.

Now this does of course have one major advantage in terms of making the Art & Design teacher’s job a little bit easier. Because when a GCSE student asks “Please Miss, should I do A level Art & Design or take a BTEC in Art & Design next year?“, the answer suddenly becomes very simple and straight forward. If you get a A* to C grade in GCSE English then you should do A level, but if you don’t you would be better off doing a BTEC. No two-tier system here then…

However, All Change Please! thinks it only fair that this sort of approach is adopted in other subjects at the same time, and is most grateful to Tony Wheeler for coming up with the following set of proposals in which students will be required to:

  • dance their Science A level practical exam
  • mime a passage from Shakespeare in English Literature
  • make a conceptual installation representing WW1 reparations as part of A level History
  • improvise on a musical theme at Maths A level in order to resolve Pi to 6 decimal points

And that marks will be deducted for the inappropriate use of Fonts, excessive Underlining, poor choices of Colour, absence of letter Kerning and lack of use of Information Technology. Just as Spelling and Grammar are known by the acronym SPAG, this will of course also doubtless be referred to by its initial letters.

All Change Please! knows what it likes, and it’s certainly not a 1000+word essay…

Image credit: Wikimedia

7 comments on “Sadly a picture is no longer worth 1000 words

  1. Haha, I love your proposed acronym. 1000 word essay? What rubbish. Same as having to compare a Shakespeare play with ‘something’ from the English Heritage. What the hell is the point of that to an autistic student. Or any other student, come to that. Basically you could compare Shakespeare to East Enders and you’d get a 1000 word essay. The latest ‘media’ piece we are teaching is to rant like the obnoxious Charlie Brooker. I really want no part of this.

  2. Our school is really good at Art and most students get As or A*s at GCSE – our Head of Art puts this partly down to the fact that from the time they enter Year 7, they are expected to annotate their work, talk about their reasons for making choices, and articulate the way they feel about other people’s work. But this ultimately nourishes their work, it’s part of the process, not the result to be judged. The result is fantastic looking artwork for us to have on loan in our offices 🙂

    I’m just imagining being a theatre director looking for a set designer, or a publisher looking for a cover designer, and what I *really really want* is a person who can write me an essay on how to do it. Not.

  3. Way back in the early seventies, I attended a direct grant school who offered Oxford and Cambridge Board Art ‘A’ level – which included a History of Art paper which had to be passed or you failed the lot. I guess this was to give an essentially practical subject some ‘academic respectability’…
    The idea was rubbish then and is rubbish now. So why am I not surprised?

    • Yes, I took A level Art with the JMB around the same time and there was a History of Art paper. However luckily I was in the first year of a new option which was to submit an extended personal study project.

      It is of course true to say that most A level Art&Design specs do now require a form of written content as part of a personal study. However these are more centred on a far more acceptable annotated sketch book approach. The problem with the new version is that it is meant to be prose-led with optional supportive illustrations.

  4. Oddly, I sort of agree with ‘he who shall not be named’. I am involved in ITE and in order to pass the course (OfSTED regulated of course) writing analytically and coherently at length is a requirement – as with any other profession. Where trainees have not completed any formal writing since GCSE, they do struggle, although they may be brilliant class room practioners.
    A difficult one………

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