Media has been taught in schools since the 1970s but has experienced a dramatic increase in demand in the 21st century. The subject is embraced at Shiplake College and our Media Department offers an enjoyable and rewarding A Level course to anyone with an interest in how the media operates. Course content and delivery is based on ongoing consultation with leading experts, providing pupils with an accurate, inspiring insight into the rapidly evolving industry. With so many jobs available in this growing area, many pupils view studying Media as the first stepping stone on their desired career path.
The department has a suite of Apple Mac computers and students have a choice of editing programs, including Final Cut Pro, iMovie and Photoshop. The department also provides a number of Canon 1200D and 1300D DSLR cameras. Whilst these are available, students are free to use their own filming and editing equipment if they have it.
Media is only taught in the Sixth Form, but no prior experience of the subject is required to embark on the A Level course. The combination of theoretical, analytical and practical work allows pupils a certain degree of flexibility to choose topics of interest to them and discover areas of expertise. Those who enjoy working as part of a team relish the opportunity to collaborate with others in creative coursework tasks. It would be beneficial for a prospective candidate to have gained at least a grade 5 or 6 at either English or English Literature at GCSE.
In Year 12, groups produce the titles and opening of a new fiction film. This past year saw pupils creating work in genres such as horror, thriller and science-fiction. Year 12 students will also learn how to analyse film and television extracts, focusing on the use of camera shots, editing and sound. They will also investigate the relationship between media companies and their audiences. The most recent case study on this has been the Disney Corporation and the production of films such as 'The Lion King' and the Marvel franchise.
The coursework task in Year 13 requires pupils to create a promotional package for a music album which includes a video, digi-pak and a band website. Students are free to choose any song they want and some have recently chosen popular acts such as Ed Sheeran and Mumford and Sons whilst others have selected local bands. The Year 13 curriculum will require pupils to theoretically analyse the arguments and debates surrounding the topics of media regulation, postmodern media and media ecology.
Leading micro-budget film producers visit Shiplake to discuss opportunities available in this area. Pupils often take inspiration by attempting a project of their own. In the past this has coincided with the Drama Department’s whole-College productions.
There are, of course, opportunities to watch films for enjoyment purposes rather than purely for critical analysis. Teachers often run film afternoons or evenings in the winter months to offer a well-earned break from physical exertion.
Every year, the department hosts the 'Shiplake Oscars' where all of the work produced is showcased for the rest of the school and awards given out for categories such as 'Best Directing' and 'Best Editing'. The event has always been well supported and it is a fun way to cap off a year of hard work for all involved.