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National Drama Subject Association

17 October 2014

Dear Holly,

Thank you for contacting us on behalf of the National Drama members, who have communicated with you their concerns about the results they have received for GCSE Drama in Summer 2014.

We would like to address the points raised in your letter and in our telephone conference call held on 10 October 2014.

We are always willing to support all centres and to address their individual concerns, and we stress that if any centres are unhappy we would encourage them to contact us directly. At this moment in time, we are aware of the discussions on social media forums, however we cannot provide the necessary support through these public discussion groups.

Of the centres we discussed confidentially during our telephone conference we have dealt with, or are currently dealing with, their concerns on a case by case basis. If there are any other centres that have concerns with their GCSE Drama results for 2014, please ask them to contact us directly.

We would like to outline the following information in response to your letter for all centres to acknowledge.

Mark adjustments for units 1 and 2

It is worth noting that, with regard to mark adjustments for the two moderated GCSE units, there were fewer adjustments made in 2014 when compared to 2013 and previous years. This is because teacher assessors have a better understanding of the requirements of units 1 and 2 and are able to assess student work more effectively. It is also due to the fact the moderator standardisation is also effective in ensuring that national standards are implemented, and the quality and quantity of feedback to centres in their reports has improved.

There are lots of different reasons why students don’t get the marks expected. For instance, it could be the lack of standardisation of the teacher-assessor, incorrect samples submitted for moderation, or teacher-assessor misassumptions that the highest achieving student in a centre’s cohort is comparable with the national standard. We therefore have to deal with centres on an individual case by case basis to ensure that we can identify the possible causes of the marks, and the type of support we can offer.

In recognition of potential discrepancies in marking, Pearson Edexcel, like other awarding bodies, offer a review of marking and moderation service, and has processes in place to ensure that any requests for reviews are conducted quickly to minimise any disruption to students. Occasionally we do identify through the reviews that an examiner or moderator has not been applying the national standard. In this situation, we have a process in place to ensure that these examiners and moderators are not contracted work on the unit again.

Please note the national standard has not changed since the specification was introduced in 2009.

Teachers can contact us with queries about the teaching and assessment of GCSE Drama and for subject content related queries, please contact: or call us on 0844 372 2191.

2014 results for GCSE Drama

In 2014, 36,746 candidates completed the Edexcel GCSE Drama qualification.

For 5DR01 in 2014, 32.7% of candidates achieved an A grade, that is 1.8% more than in 2013. For 5DR02 in 2014, 46.3% of candidates achieved an A grade, that is 1.9% more than in 2013. For 5DR03 in 2014, 21.2% of candidates achieved an A grade, that is 0.2% more than in 2013.

The aim of setting grade boundaries, also known as ‘Awarding’, is to ensure comparable outcomes. This approach means that if the ability of this year’s cohort is the same as the ability of the cohort in the previous examination series, we would expect candidates to achieve the same outcomes. This means that candidates are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged by taking a qualification in any given year. As a result, coursework boundaries can be adjusted to achieve comparable outcomes across the qualification.

As is the case for all awarding organisations, Pearson has to comply with Ofqual regarding maintaining comparable outcomes year on year.

In regards to the Post Results Services we offer; these are in line with the same services offered by the other awarding organisations. Centres can request a review of the original assessment by a member of the senior team.

There is a misconception that the student work is re-moderated or re-marked; however this is not the case for any awarding organisation. The review process is very thorough, and more information can be found on the Edexcel website below:

Support for teachers

This year, to ensure that teachers are fully aware of national standards, we will be providing the following:

Free face to face and online standardisation events for units 1 and 2. The materials used in these standardisation events will be available for all teachers to access later this term via the Edexcel GCSE Drama webpage. This will enable teachers to conduct the standardisation exercises in their own centres.

Two examples of work for unit 3 will available on the Edexcel GCSE Drama webpage for teachers to download; these will include recordings of student work, guidance and feedback from the teacher, plus additional commentary from the chief examiner.

In 2013, we provided the face to face and standardisation events for units 1 and 2, plus an additional pack that can still be downloaded from the GCSE Drama webpage. We also provided an example of work for unit 3, featuring a devised performance, with a detailed commentary from the Principal Examiner for the unit. Some teachers have commented that the mark scheme for unit 3 is difficult to understand in terms of what is expected for each level; the examples of work we provide should address this issue and provide clearer guidance of expectations.

Completing GCSE standardisation is not compulsory but is highly recommended. As it isn’t possible for all teachers to attend these events, we will ensure that standardisation packs are available for all.

We also run online training events for Unit 3 focusing on feedback on the last exam series, and preparation for the next; due to Ofqual regulations we are unable to provide face to face training for any externally assessed unit.

The courses are very popular, and we will increase the number of events according to demand. Therefore if you are interested in attending any of these courses, please express your interest via the website.

Information on training and standardisation events is available on the Edexcel training page: events.aspx

Further support

Some teachers have made suggestions for improving the assessment and administrative support for the qualification, including:

▪ The possibility of externally moderating unit 3. During the lifetime of the specification, we are unable to make such significant changes. You may be aware that the qualification is currently being redeveloped, and a new GCSE Drama qualification will be launched next year for first teaching in September 2016. If teachers would like to be involved in the research and development of the new specification, please send your details to with the heading ‘GCSE and GCE Drama 2016’.

▪ Providing feedback on Records of Work; we are unable to sign off ROW’s, as it is a document created once the practical work has been completed. You can send your Schemes of Work to and Paul Webster, the subject advisor, may be able to provide informal guidance on the planned activities.

▪ Providing centre feedback on Unit 3 performances; in line with other externally assessed units, in any qualification, we cannot provide centre feedback. Students are assessed as individuals, not as a group, and therefore we cannot provide a centre report. It may be possible to provide this in the new specification, depending on the nature of the assessment of practical work.

I hope that the information and feedback included provides your members with a clearer picture of the June 2014 examination results, and how we strive to ensure that teachers and students are supported in the teaching and assessment of the qualification.

Kind regards,

Paul Webster

Performing Arts and Drama Subject Advisor Pearson Education One90 High Holborn | London | WC1V 7BH


Twitter: @PearsonPerfArts

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