Following the JCQ notice to centres, which was issued in January, we have received a number of queries from schools and colleges delivering A Level biology, chemistry and physics – querying what they need to do when letting students know their centre-assessed outcomes for the practical endorsements.
I therefore wanted to provide some more detail about what is actually required and how you might fulfil these requirements.
The cross-board messaging in September 2017 highlighted the need for each student to demonstrate all practical skills, apparatus and techniques.
In terms of the new requirement, schools and colleges must inform students whether they have passed the practical endorsement or not and students should be given the opportunity to appeal this decision. This must be done before the grades, Pass (P) or Not Classified (NC), are submitted to OCR.
Many schools will be doing this already and, for others, it’s simply a case of making the time to do this. As the practical endorsement is assessed in the classroom over a two-year period, students should already be aware of their progress. No student likely to achieve a ‘Not Classified’ result should reach the end of the course without knowing this.
It should therefore be possible to use existing recording systems, with no need for additional paperwork over and above that required to meet the minimum requirements for the practical endorsement.
Existing tracking models should record the activities undertaken by each student and which competences they have achieved, and which they have not. This progress can be shared at regular, but not necessarily frequent, intervals such as in academic review days or parents’ evenings.
Large schools or colleges may need to think carefully about how they maintain such records – either using central software or even wall charts for each class.
Schools and colleges where students maintain their own records are able to reduce the teacher record-keeping requirements. Students often have the lists of skills, apparatus and techniques fixed in their lab books, identifying the dates on which they demonstrated competence against each item.
The monitoring process, which takes place during the two years of teaching, reviews teacher judgements and record keeping, making sure they are compliant with the Ofqual requirements.
For answers to other questions about centre-assessed reviews of marking, take a look at the blog we published earlier in the year.
Neil Wade - Lead Subject Advisor (STEM)
Neil joined OCR in May 2014 having taught GCSE science and A Level physics for the previous 19 years. Neil has represented OCR on the cross-board working group for the Practical Endorsement, looking at its implementation both nationally for all boards and at the OCR approach to practical work in the new specifications.