A Site of Conflict and Resistance: The impact of the 2014 curriculum reform on A’ Level Media Studies

Proceedings of The International Academic Conference on Research in Social Sciences

Year: 2019

DOI: https://www.doi.org/10.33422/iacrss.2019.11.636

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A Site of Conflict and Resistance: The impact of the 2014 curriculum reform on A’ Level Media Studies

Michelle Thomason



Precipitated by the UK government’s education reform of A’ Levels in 2014, this pilot research study enters at a time when Media Studies is undergoing a new and radical change in curriculum. When Media Studies was initially not included in the first two rounds of consultation, the reform laid bare some of the insecurities that have been dormant for the subject in recent years and there were real fears it would not continue to exist as an A-Level qualification. Following its eventual consultation and a lengthy process, characterised by dissonance between policy makers and media educators, the new curriculum emerged looking very different to its predecessors. The author’s dual status of teacher-researcher and the methodological approach of netnography have been used to examine and interpret the real-life experiences of the teachers of the subject against the political backdrop of education reform, via their online communities of practice on Facebook. Findings from the pilot revealed that despite a prevailing feeling of discord and frustration about the new specifications, implicit in this was also a reinstituted energy and investment in the subject at an ideological level. This study contributes new and original knowledge at this crucial stage in the subject’s genealogy as it captures in ‘real-time’ the experiences of those teaching and studying the new specifications and, thus, is able to provide an in-depth and contemporary understanding of how the subject is evolving at a time when media education is critical in a wider context.

Keywords: Communities of Practice; Media Studies; Media Education; Michael Gove; Netnography.