We’re keen to keep you up to date with all the latest news on the reform of general qualifications and to support you throughout the transition. While many decisions regarding reform are still to be confirmed by Ofqual, or are under consultation, I wanted to focus my latest blog post on the planning and preparation which you can be thinking about.
As many of you may already know, reform means the end of unitisation for GCSEs and A Levels and the introduction of a fully linear exam administration system. Reforms are being introduced in three tranches (or phases) and first teaching for tranche 1 began in September 2015. This means there will be a period of at least three years (from September 2015) when students can take new specifications in some subjects and legacy specifications in other subjects so this means you’ll be dealing with processes for unitised and linear qualifications during this period. For many of you it won’t be until the next academic year that you start to fully administer the new qualifications, e.g. make entries. However, if you have any candidates taking a new AS qualification in 2015/16 then you will need to take action this year.
Things are more complicated because change is happening in three phases, rather than all at the same time, and simply thinking about when legacy qualifications come to an end can be challenging! It’s really important for teachers to consider which candidates should be following what specification. You and your teaching colleagues need to be aware which phase of reform the subject in question falls in to – one, two or three.
The changes taking place will inevitably increase the chances of risk so make time to think about the impact of reform. Some of the ways you can help to minimise risks are:
We want to support you so if you have questions you need to ask, or support you’d like us to provide, we want to hear from you. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments or suggestions.
Make sure you know who your local customer support manager (CSM) is. Are you and your teaching colleagues members of an exams officer or teacher network group? Networks allow you to keep up-to-date and interact not just with us but with other exams officers. You can find more information on the ‘training and networks’ page of our website.
Watch out for our regular communications and updates – remember things can change as new decisions are announced. Our monthly exams officer update and subject information updates are essential as they contain all the latest news and information. They also provide quick links to our website and our latest blog posts. Do encourage your teaching colleagues to sign up for the subject information updates – it enables them to receive important information direct and you’ll need to forward fewer emails to them.
We’ve made some changes to the exams officers area of our website – there’s a new structure which follows the exam cycle and makes information easier to find. You might find it useful to bookmark these pages so you can access them quickly. Why not follow us on Twitter? We add lots of hints, tips and reminders to our Twitter feed, @OCRCustSupport. The reform pages on the OCR website are also useful – just select ‘Qualifications’ then click ‘GCSE and A Level reform’.
Thanks to those of you who have already completed your 2015 Intention to Teach form. We’re asking for information about which of our new specifications you'll be starting to teach at your centre, the size of the cohort, and a contact name and email address for the subject. This form is only for our new reformed specifications that you’re starting to teach from September, i.e. GCSE, AS and A Levels. The contact details we collect will be used to provide relevant subject information and support directly to the correct person in your centre.
Alison Leather - Customer Support Manager (South East)
Alison is Customer Support Manager for the South East region. The Customer Support Team provides support, training and guidance for centres administering OCR qualifications.
Alison has worked in education since 1995, as an Exams Manager in a college, a Centre Support Officer with the National Assessment Agency (NAA) and an Exams Officer in a secondary school – so she knows how challenging and rewarding it can be working in the exams office. Alison joined OCR as Customer Support Manager in 2007.