Today attention switches to GCSE Media Studies. Over the last few years, entries to GCSE Media have risen dramatically. Since media studies as a subject is not part of National Curriculum, examined courses at KS4 (14-16) in England and Wales have always suffered in comparison to the more market-led situation post 16. At A Level, some 4% of candidates take AS/A2 Film or Media Studies, but only around 1% take GCSE Media. This means that the numbers are significant, but don't as yet cause the same murmurs amongst traditionalists in education as the presence of A Level Media in the Top 10 subjects.
This year's results posted by the Joint Council for Qualifications show that in 2007 there were 66,425 candidates for GCSE Media, representing a significant increase on the 57,521 in 2006. In fact, according to the 'trends' report on the JCQ website, media studies shows a 15.4% increase in take-up. This makes it No 3 in the 'Top 10 subject increases', but since this table is topped by the relatively small numbers representing Additional Maths, media is still growing as fast as in 2006 when it was No 2. The champion is Statistics with an increase of 21% for a total of 82,000. It does look as if all the attempts to boost Maths are having some effect at both GCSE and A Level and this may deflect some of the predicted attacks on media. However, a little lower down the Top 10 increases are the three separate science subjects. There has been a clamour for a return to single science GCSEs because combined science does not seem to be 'stretching' students. Biology, Physic and Chemistry are, as a result of official promotion, growing by 4-5% a year, but this clearly doesn't match media studies which, without official sanction, is ahead of any of the single science subjects. I suspect that this will be picked up by commentators. It's worth remembering though, that media is still relatively small beer at this level. The main National Curriculum subjects each attract over 200,000 candidates. Religious Studies has been one of the recent success stories and it now attracts over 170,000.
In the next couple of years, Film Studies GCSE will make its appearance and will no doubt add a few more thousand. For the moment, more attention might be paid to the vocational alternatives. The new 'Applied Media' course has only been piloted in a few centres so far, but it has produced some results (300) so far. I was also intrigued to discover that a Journalism GCSE is offered by the Awarding Body in Northern Ireland, CCEA and this produced 170 candidates in 2007. BTEC results are not included in the JCQ press release, so I will report on these when I find them.