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We are issuing this update to highlight good practice in the assessment of Cambridge Nationals and further guidance we are making available.
OCR works hard to ensure the integrity of our assessments and we take any incidents of malpractice very seriously to ensure fairness for all.
We are grateful for schools’ and colleges’ diligence in ensuring centre-assessed tasks are conducted appropriately.
Teachers delivering and assessing the moderated units must make sure they are familiar with our requirements for managing internal assessment in section 4 in the specification. Our requirements are drawn from the JCQ Instructions for conducting coursework, which set out good practice. If you do not follow our requirements you risk committing malpractice.
We investigate any suspected malpractice or maladministration and there are serious sanctions for centres and staff that commit malpractice or maladministration. Sanctions (such as reducing a learner’s marks) have obvious implications to centres, teachers and learners so we want to ensure all centres are aware of rules and controls surrounding these qualifications.
OCR is conscious that over time the use of the term 'model assignment' has created some confusion, so in response to this feedback we have decided to update our terminology to make our expectations clearer.
From now on Cambridge Nationals 'model assignments' will be known as 'OCR set assignments'.
We will be providing additional information to support teachers in the delivery of the assignments and this will be found in updated versions we will make available in the New Year. These will be available from the qualification pages.
Centres are not obliged to use the new versions with the additional guidance, but are strongly recommended to, as they will better support you in delivering and assessing the assignments. The nature and content of the tasks within the assignment has not changed.
There are three fundamental areas to be aware of when preparing and conducting assessments for Cambridge Nationals and we have outlined these below. These are not the only areas of concern, but they do represent the vast majority of reported malpractice cases for this qualification.
It's really important to note that writing frames and templates may disadvantage your learners. Our advice is:
Do not use writing frames and templates, unless the specification or set assignment states that they can be used in relation to a specific skill.
If you use them check carefully that they do not:
Often, the marking criteria require learners to decide how they should approach a task themselves. A pre-populated template usually means that a teacher has over-directed the learner which constitutes malpractice. Make sure learners are aware of these restrictions too. If a learner decides to re-use a template for summative assessment that they had previously used as part of their lessons, they may disadvantage themselves if the template does not reflect the requirements of the marking criteria. If learners use their own templates then teachers must note this on the unit recording sheet or on the evidence itself, eg “template found by learner, not provided by teacher”.
We supply at least one set assignment for every internally assessed Cambridge National unit (with the exception of ICT unit R011). These have been designed to cover all the learning outcomes and allow learners to access the full range of marks available. Set assignments have to be used only for the summative assessment of the unit and not for formative teaching and learning. We have stopped calling them model assignments so it is clearer that you must use them.
Look at the Information for Teachers that is provided with each set assignment in the section 'Scope of Permitted Changes'.
If you make other changes, you risk disadvantaging the learner (by preventing them from accessing the higher marks) or by providing too much assistance. In these cases, such changes are likely to constitute malpractice.
Make sure you and your learners are familiar with the OCR Guide to Referencing. All learners need to reference or acknowledge their sources appropriately (including Internet sources), even when paraphrasing. Please encourage your learners to consider whether quoting from elsewhere, even when referenced correctly, is the best way to demonstrate their understanding. Higher-level marks often require synthesis of information, for example. We have seen instances when learners have taken information from the Internet and referenced it but not made any contribution of their own alongside the information from the Internet. Consequently, those learners have failed to show their individual understanding and therefore your marking should reflect this. Cases like this could also constitute malpractice as it cannot be deemed to be a learner’s own work.
You can find Lead Moderator reports for centres for the June 2016 series on our website (search by subject and then Past papers, mark schemes and report). These give advice about assessment, good practice and areas where there is some uncertainty about OCR’s requirements. As well as this support, we continue to offer frequent webinars where the Lead Moderator will guide centres through some moderated units, and Ask the Moderator – a chance to clarify any assessment related questions you might have for these units. To find out more go to our CPD hub.
We are finalising a new document to help support centres in completing assessment of the moderated units which will be available in the New Year.
In the meantime, please contact us on 02476 851509 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions about this update.