Channel 4’s Paralympics coverage could be studied in schools

As well as BBC drama Undercover

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New plans from exam board AQA could see schoolchildren in England, Wales and Northern Ireland studying Channel 4’s Paralympics coverage.

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Pupils taking a new Media Studies qualification from the board will be asked to analyse depictions and representations of minority groups and communities in the media, with the Channel 4 coverage seen as a “likely case study” due to its higher representation for people with disabilities and normalisation of them through programmes like comedy talk show The last Leg, which is also broadcast outside of the Games.

“Channel 4 has not only taken the profile of the Paralympics and similar events to a whole new level, but it’s put shows like The Last Leg permanently at the heart of its schedule,” said Sandra Allan, AQA Head of Curriculum for Creative Arts.

“It’s a prime case study for how the media can represent disabled people in a way that doesn’t smack of box-ticking, and it’s something I’m sure students would really enjoy learning about.” 

BBC drama series Undercover was also named as a likely example for the course, thanks to its unusual casting of black actors (including Sophie Okonedo and Adrian Lester) in the lead roles despite ethnicity not forming a crucial part of the story.

Keith Daniell, Chair of The Media Group, an award-winning creative agency, said: “In today’s increasingly connected world, an understanding of the media and media platforms is essential. Studying these new GCSE and A-Level Media Studies qualifications will help students to develop critical thinking skills and open up opportunities for them in the future.”

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The drafts for AQA’s new GCSE and A Level Media Studies course have been submitted for accreditation, and will be available to teach from September 2017.