Pathways through the A2 year

As you begin the A2 year it might be worth considering an overall structure which enables you and your teacher to focus on measurable milestones as you prepare for the two units. Some teachers will present you with dates and deadlines, guiding you towards them, while others will involve you more in the process and encourage – as far as possible – a collective decision to be reached and agreed within the group.

Remember, the two units that make up the A2 year break down in the same way as those of the AS year, with unit 3 an internally-assessed, externally-moderated unit, and unit 4 a written examination to be taken in June.

In planning for the year your teacher may need to consider the following:

  • Coursework deadline is early May (unit 3)
  • The written examination will be in June (unit 4)
  • Balancing the demands of  the A2 year with those of  the AS year
  • Other demands on your time and on the drama space(s).

As a group you will need to structure pathways through the A2 year that dovetail in with the other demands on your time, and with reference to the written examination (which is worth up to 30% of the A level marks).

It might be a good idea to take 30 minutes from a session early in the academic year just to look at your individual commitments in the group – including the commitments your teacher will have to other aspects of their teaching – or, indeed, life!

Draw up a list. You might consider the following:

  • Part-time work commitments
  • Sporting teams and fixtures
  • Field trips/visits/events for other subjects
  • Coursework deadlines (internal) for other subjects
  • Important social activities (eg. weddings, 18th birthday parties, etc.)
  • Commitment to productions outside of school/college
  • Open days/visits
  • Other commitments which you know of in advance.

 Clearly we cannot legislate for every event that will pop into our lives during an academic year, but what we can do is to carefully plan in order to avoid, as far as possible, unpleasant surprises. Anything that you are aware of at the start of the A2 year which may impact on your group performance of unit 3, or a theatre visit to help prepare for unit 4, needs to be recorded on a group calendar so you can all plan your work around it.

Whilst this all sounds utopian, there will come a point when your teacher needs to make a decision about putting dates into the drama department calendar.  This is a decision which is influenced by deadlines in place from the examination boards – these cannot be altered. There will need to be a bit of give and take at times, and this may mean that some your group will need to rearrange work commitments to accommodate a theatre visit, for example. It is better to be upfront about this at the start of the year than to worry about it the day before the event.

Once you have all had an opportunity to contribute to the group calendar – you do not even need to do this in lesson time – you will then need to be guided into the A2 structure by your teacher. He or she will have done some planning during the summer break and may have something in mind for you – see the following example.

Your teacher may consider the following structure for the A2 year:

Autumn Term

Induction Period – 4 weeks

Start work on unit 3

Start work on unit 4

Explore devising demands and look at structuring devised work for an audience in response to a stimulus.
Introduce the stimulus for unit 3 and structure a series of workshops that explore it as part of the introduction and to lead students into the demands of the unit.
Look at extracts from the three unit 4 texts in workshop activities and consider response and potential before making decisions.
Consider historical periods and set research tasks.
Possible workshop performance(s) of the unit 4 text (or after unit 3 is complete).

Spring Term

Performance of unit 3

Complete SWED

Continue preparing for unit 4

Performance of the unit 3 piece to dovetail in with other demands on time and space – possibly before February half term break.
Complete SWED – first draft collected.
First draft of SWED returned. Final version and unit 3 completed, ready to send off to the moderator in May.
Workshops around extracts from the chosen text. Opportunities for students to direct and perform workshop production (or in December).
Research and presentations on the chosen time period.
Look to a performance for the demands of section C.

Summer Term

Prepare for unit 4

Structuring written responses to the questions and exploring rehearsal techniques that are relevant.
Considering concepts.
Responding to the live performance and structuring written responses.

This structure, in outline, could give freedom within it to prepare for both the A2 practical units, without feeling the pressure of the written unit. As this is the only written examination in the specification, and as most students choosing this course do not do so in order to be able to write about it, your teacher will need to consider a group approach that is both confidence-building and progressive for you.

Below we have reproduced this grid, but taken out most of the content. It might be a useful exercise to look at the breakdown of the terms, and the particular events that will impact on you and your centre. Try to come up with a structure which will enable you to meet the deadlines, and also, most importantly, to have a meaningful experience during the A2 year.

Approaching the A2 Year: possible Structure

Autumn Term.

Induction Period – 4 weeks

Spring Term

Summer Term

May 15th: Exam board Coursework deadline


June: Unit 4 Examination

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