GCSE Reform: Embracing change

Date Posted: 06/09/2017

Trips to tie in with the content of the next wave of new GCSEs, including D&T, Media, and Business. 

The next wave of GCSE reform begins this new school term. Following on from reforms in core subjects like English Language, English Literature, Maths and Science, and foundation subjects like Computer Science, PE, and Citizenship, adaptations are now being made to optional GCSEs. 

For most schools, the main subjects that will be affected will be Design & Technology, Business and Media Studies. Schools with a broader offering will find themselves having to adjust to changes in subjects like Astronomy, Ancient History, Economics, Geology, Psychology, Sociology and Statistics, too. 

We take a look at what’s changing this academic year and suggest some attractions that have an educational offering that can tie in with GCSE studies.

Design & Technology

In the new Design & Technology GCSE coursework will only count for 50% of the final grade. The new specifications will also place a new emphasis on contextual design, in which students are given a broader brief such as 'improve a living space' as opposed to a closed brief like 'design a chocolate bar wrapper'. Pupils must also learn about emerging technologies like robotics, and modern materials like Graphene.  

The V&A in London is a powerhouse when it comes to design education. New sessions at the museum include Design Prototyping, Ceramics, and Graphics. The V&A will also be running its Design Lab project throughout the 2017/18 academic year. This project puts pupils in contact with professional designers to gain a greater understanding of the designed world. 

Sustainability forms part of the core technical principles section of the new GCSE, and pupils can study the topic in detail at The Crystal in London. It's one of the world's most sustainable buildings and home to a permanent exhibition on the future of cities. A range of resources are available to visiting students and pupils and example activities include researching the optimum working temperature of a building and designing a uniform that would allow a school to become more sustainable by using less energy.  

Every summer term the New Designers exhibition takes place at the Business Design Centre in London. The show, which has been running for more than 30 years, showcases the work of more than 3,000 of the UK's recently graduated designers. A range of talks is also on offer that covers topics relevant to the new GCSE specification such as marketing and investment opportunities like crowd funding.

Pupils in the north can visit Jaguar Land Rover to study topics like JIT and Lean Working, as well as concepts relating to emerging technologies. As well as touring the factory pupils get to take part in activities like production line challenges and individually operating a robot arm.  

Media Studies

The new Media Studies GCSE requires pupils to study a range of media products from newspapers to video games, as well as media industries, audiences and media language. 

The BBC offers school trips at Media City in Salford and its offices in Bristol, Birmingham, Newcastle, Wales and Scotland (www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours). At Media City, students can tour radio studios and take part in activities like making their own weather and news bulletin in the interactive learning studio. 

Sky also runs school trips at its Skills Studio in London. Pupils can go behind the scenes on a studio tour before getting the opportunity to create their own TV report using the latest technology such as touch screen editing software. The studios are fully booked for September and October, but teachers can still register interest for trips from November onwards. 

The concept of regulation can be studied in depth at the central offices of the British Board of Film Classification near Tottenham Court Road in London. The BBFC hosts a range of seminars on film censorship and media regulation that pupils can attend. A selection of post-visit classroom resources are also available that allow pupils to complete tasks like classifying their own film trailer. 

Business

Quite a few new topics have been added in to the new Business GCSE, including the types of technology used in business, changes in business aims and objectives, the sales process and globalisation. Pupils must learn about both small and large business processes.  

A great place to study small businesses is Cockpit Arts in Holborn London. It's the UK's only business incubator and home to 170 small businesses, specialising in design and crafts. All school trips are tailored, but trips linked to Business Studies can involve elements like a talk by the business development team and visits to two of the business owner’s studios where pupils can find out more about all aspects of setting up and running a company. 

Manchester United also offers school trips linked to Business Studies. GCSE pupils can tour the stadium at Old Trafford before taking part in an educational workshop. A range of workshop topics link to the new Business Studies specification, including business in general, finance, and marketing.

School Travel Organiser's Guide
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