Naturally, we speak and hear from a vast number of teachers, those that are new to the profession and those who are new to teaching our qualifications.
I was recently looking through the types of questions we get asked at the start of each term and felt it would be timely to share the top nine essentials from our portfolio of support for anyone teaching our qualifications for the first time.
Specifications are the absolute “go-to” in order to teach our qualifications, they contain a wealth of information about your specific subject and it’s expected that you use the full specification in order to teach the qualification.
The overview section of the specification outlines the Components and the assessment overview includes exam timings and marks available for each paper.
The rest of the specification breakdowns what should be taught (content) and what students should know or what skills they should have.
Specifications will include assessment objectives and weightings. Each specification may also have detailed appendices (e.g. Mathematical requirements).
To fully understand our qualifications and how your students will be assessed it is essential to look at our assessment material. There are different names and types of assessment materials such as sample assessment material (SAMS), practice papers and past papers.
We publish sample assessment materials which are available on the qualification page for your subject. These are created when the specification is approved and accredited by Ofqual and explains how the qualification is assessed.
We also publish past papers, with the mark schemes and the examiners’ reports on our qualification page together with the relevant candidate exemplars for that exam year.
The most recent assessment materials (e.g. 2019) will be kept on Interchange, because many teachers will use the most recent paper as a mock exam and therefore don’t want their students seeing it.
Some qualifications have practice papers and mark schemes too. These are extra assessment materials to help with creating questions for your students to try.
Many of our qualifications are supported by ExamBuilder. ExamBuilder is our free question-building platform where you can create mock question papers from our range of GCSE and A Level past papers. ExamBuilder is free for all OCR centres with an Interchange account, sign-up and start using ExamBuilder.
Our range of teacher support materials is worth a further look, you can find these on the planning and teaching tab of the relevant qualification page. Resources include schemes of work, assessment guides, delivery guides and lesson elements.
Interchange is our secure, online server where you’ll find a variety of documents and information. Perhaps most importantly, Interchange is where you will find the most recent exam paper and associated mark schemes and examiner reports.
We store them here in order to preserve their integrity for use as mock papers – and as previously mentioned your students’ will not be able to access the materials.
You’ll also be able to access a whole host of other documentation – if you offer our Entry Level qualifications, for example, you’ll find all you need on the Interchange website.
Interchange can also provide you with a link to our results analysis service (Active Results) and moderation reports. If you don’t have access to interchange – make sure you speak to your exam officer, who will be able to provide you with a login and a password.
We strongly recommend that you look closely at the professional development courses available. These range from face-to-face events to online webinars.
All our qualifications will have a “First teaching: everything you need to know to get started…” and these would be a good first professional development choice.
If you‘d like to know more about the assessment of your subject we also recommend the course “Understanding the assessment: exam feedback” run by assessors with OCR. To find your ideal course visit the professional development website.
We run a number of teacher networks across the country, every term. These free events will provide you with a fantastic opportunity to meet your subject advisors and network with like-minded colleagues in your local area.
Whilst these are not professional development events, they give you an opportunity to discuss teaching and assessment; share ideas and best practice and build yourself a local network of teachers.
Each subject has its own administrative requirements, which varies depending on the qualification and could include vital (and compulsory) forms that you must submit to OCR at the appropriate time.
If you’re not sure what forms you need to fill in for any given qualification, you can use our handy ‘form finder’ to help you.
On the administration tab of the web page of your qualification, you’ll also be able to access all our subject information updates, as well as links to key dates and examination timetables.
When you sign up for updates we’ll keep you updated with the latest news, updates or activities including OCR news, professional development events, teacher networks and teaching and assessment resources.
I hope you found these eight items useful. Our final point (we did promise nine after all) is quite simply…
If you have any questions about our qualifications, the specification or the assessment at any point we welcome your questions and are happy to talk.
All the information you need is given on the contact us pages of our website. The customer support centre telephone numbers is 01223 553998.
Depending on the nature of your enquiry a subject advisor may also help answer your questions.
Meet our aubject advisors - read about how they help to support teachers delivering our specifications and prepare students for our exams in their latest blog.
If you want to know more about any of the top nine items you can comment below, call on 01223 553998 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow us on Twitter at @OCRexams.
Lucy Carey – Subject advisor
Lucy joined OCR in September 2017 as the subject advisor for sociology and psychology. Before joining OCR she worked as a teacher being the Head of Sociology and Psychology departments in Peterborough, Yorkshire and Cambridge. In her spare time, she enjoys scuba diving and travel.
Grant Robertson – Lead subject advisor
Grant started working at OCR in February 2014 and is a lead subject advisor and advises on history. His degree is in history and politics, with a focus on modern European and African history and 19th century political thought. Previously, Grant was a Head of Politics, Law and Humanities in schools in Kent and Kingston upon Thames. Outside of work he is an F1 junkie, a passionate Charlton Athletic fan and enjoys spending time with his family.