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OCR welcomes the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) report.
We have always sought to work with teachers to improve marking. A number of HMC heads and teachers work with OCR on our subject forums, within their professional associations and in helping design assessments. They also serve as examiners at every level.
OCR calls upon the HMC to enter serious talks to discuss ways in which it is possible to improve the quality of marking. OCR is also happy to engage with the HMC, and other teaching unions, to address ways in which the procedures highlighted by the report can be improved.
OCR Chief Executive Mark Dawe said: "We continually work to improve teacher-examiner marking and have made significant investment in systems to support and improve marking quality - but there is further work to be done. One method which could lead to immediate improvement would be for fee-paying schools to encourage more teachers to take up assessment, helping ensure the high-quality, consistent marking called for by the HMC."
"It remains a real challenge to ensure a proper balance between intellectually challenging, open-ended questions that require judgement and more reliably marked, knowledge-based questions. Demands to create exams that can be precisely marked must be balanced by the demands of a good education, requiring rich, complex, questions that enable candidates to demonstrate the full range of their ability."
"That balance is illustrated by awarding bodies receiving complaints from schools when questions are asked on subjects not specifically name-checked in the mark-scheme or syllabus. Examples include challenging the use of the word Bolshevik rather than Communist in a History GCSE, objecting to a question about seals which addressed their mammalian characteristics in a Biology A Level and objecting to "obscure questions" that sought to challenge students to apply their biology in unfamiliar contexts."
Mark Dawe continued: "Creating predictable questions that allow precise marking encourages teaching to the test and undermines the delivery of real education. Conversely, questions at the other end of the spectrum must involve the application of more teacher-examiner judgement. This in turn requires greater investment in training by both board and examiner to produce experienced, sound and reliable teacher-examiners."