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In this section

Candidate F

The candidate was awarded 12 marks for this broadly discursive piece of writing.

Summary

In this broadly discursive piece, the candidate, writing in an often humorous style, discusses the merits of drama and argues that the subject should be a compulsory part of the Scottish curriculum. Although the opinions presented are based on personal experience, it should be noted that this is a perfectly valid approach to writing a ‘broadly discursive’ piece. The candidate’s experiences constitute the research, and this is used thoughtfully.

Content

The candidate’s ideas are characterised by personal experience, which drives the opinion that drama should be more widely taught in schools because of the opportunities it provides for skills development. The candidate uses personal experiences to discuss the lack of drama provision; compulsory PE; the benefits of taking part in drama performances; and the skills that can be developed as a result of this.

The essay shows clear attention to purpose and clear understanding of the topic from the outset. A clear line of thought runs through the essay and the candidate demonstrates a convincing stance. In response to the mistaken belief that the study of drama should be exclusive to those with a talent for performing, the candidate states, ‘This is so wrong’. This allows the clear establishment of the essay’s main argument: that drama offers many opportunities to develop young people’s skills. A long second section focuses on the skills developed by drama, covering the flexibility it offers: opportunities for participation in different aspects of a performance, teamwork, and confidence. Clear engagement with the topic is evidenced by the comparison to compulsory PE and this is heightened by the tongue-in-cheek tone when describing a stereotypical PE lesson.

As the essay develops, the candidate discusses other, less predictable, aspects of the issue: the importance of cultural enrichment (perhaps less well handled); lack of opportunity in the wider community; and the fixed mind-sets of boys, in particular, which leads to an interesting discussion about male stereotypes. The content covers a range of ideas connected to the main argument, some of which are fresh and thought-provoking. For example, the argument that PE, a traditionally-accepted given in the curriculum, is actually of less benefit than drama, is an interesting idea which challenges our assumptions. The conclusion is clear: involvement in drama can enhance many aspects of personal development, and schools must therefore ‘reconsider the beneficial impact’ of drama.

Style

Underpinning this essay is the personal commitment and enthusiasm conveyed by the writer. This is sustained throughout the piece and, combined with several linguistic features associated with the genre, is used clearly to create the piece’s persuasive force.

The style of writing is characterised by a conversational, informal tone. Expression is clear and, in places, confident. At times, questions, such as ‘I mean, what’s that meant to teach you?’, and direct address, for example ‘Don’t get me wrong…’ are used to engage the reader. Sentence structure can be varied: there is use of repetition; lists; single-word sentences; questions; parenthesis. Humour is used to convey thought, for example, “Come on boys, get a grip. Man up and give it a chance!’ All of these combine to create impact. The candidate contrasts PE with drama to emphasise drama’s merits. At times, the writer uses emotive word choice to heighten the contrast: PE is described as ‘barbaric’, its support ‘troglodyte’, whereas drama is ‘progressive’ and allows students to ‘shine’. This deliberate choice of language conveys the writer’s convincing stance.

The essay’s structure enhances its purpose and meaning. The candidate signals the progression of ideas with clear topic sentences – ‘I suppose the biggest thing that irks me most…’; ‘Despite all this being said…’ – which lends fluency to the line of thought. Although the second paragraph is perhaps over-long, it does hold together by focusing on the skills gained through drama.

The candidate ends neatly by playing on the idea of dramatic performance, directly addressing the reader with an effective pun: ‘now is the time to act’.

Overall

This piece is placed in the 12-10 mark range. It is a clear piece of writing, edging towards confident in places, with a convincing stance and commitment to the topic. For these reasons it was placed at the top of the 12-10 range and awarded 12 marks