You can tell it’s Christmas because the weather’s turned mild, the sound of Slade is blaring out in the shops, and consultations on educational matters are rolling in thick and fast.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas for OCR without a bumper selection of consultations to go with the turkey and cranberry sauce. Here’s just a taster of what’s in store for us and for teachers in 2016.
Ofqual “New Statutory Guidance: Consultation on New Statutory Guidance to Support the General Conditions of Recognition”
This contains draft guidance to exam boards on how they can meet their regulatory obligations, including some lengthy advice on what an exam board should do if it issues a wrong result. Elsewhere it sets out expectations on the use of language in “stimulus materials” declaring that it should be “clear, precise and understandable.”
Ofqual “Consultation on Final Entries to Legacy GCSEs, AS and A Levels”
This is full of important questions about last chances to re-sit legacy Maths and English GCSEs and all the yet-to-be-decoupled A Levels. It also includes a classic draft regulatory condition:
“In respect of each qualification which it makes available that is subject to an accreditation requirement in accordance with section 139 of the Act, and for which accreditation will cease to have effect in accordance with section 140(6) of the Act, an awarding organisation must comply with any requirements relating to that qualification which are set out in any saving and transitional provisions made by Ofqual in accordance with section 140(10) of the Act.”
Clear, precise and understandable?
DfE “Arrangements to implement the national reference test”
National Reference tests in English and maths will be used to measure the year on year performance of pupils at key stage 4 and are intended to provide additional data to inform the awarding of GCSEs. People have queried whether these tests, to be taken by a random sample of pupils from a random sample of schools, will deliver meaningful data. But that is not the subject of this consultation. This is about making it mandatory for schools to participate in the tests. There is a tricky question about the circumstances under which an individual pupil might legitimately be excused from taking the test.
Education Select Committee inquiry “Purpose and quality of education in England”
This was the subject of my last blog. The Select Committee is going back to first principles by exploring the purpose of education. Future topics to include The Meaning of Life?’.
Ofqual “Regulating Use of Calculators in New GCSEs, AS and A Levels Consultation on Conditions”
The use of calculators in exams has been a fetish of politicians over the years with various Secretaries of State intervening on their use. Life is even more complicated now that calculators have more computing power than was used in the Apollo landings and probably have the functionality to cook a mince pie, take a picture of it and share it on Facebook. You can decide for yourself whether calculators impede the development of essential mathematical skills or simply do some of the spadework, so that pupils can get on with the business of tackling higher order mathematical problems. You might also want to take a look at Ofqual’s “AS and A Level Mathematics and Further Mathematics: Consultation on Conditions and Guidance”.
Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy “Careers advice, information and guidance inquiry”
This inquiry comes from a newly formed sub-committee combining members from other committees. The general consensus seems to be that good careers guidance is a rare as a white Christmas. A key question would be, ‘What is the purpose of careers guidance?’.
Ofqual “Marking reviews, appeals, grade boundaries and Code of Practice”
Most of this consultation focuses on proposals for revising the process for enquiries and appeals about exam results. The proposals are sound and contain reassuring research data on the current state of the quality of marking. However there isn’t much in there to arrest the current rise in the number of results enquiries. The consultation also includes an important, if challenging truth: “In some cases, a candidate might receive a slightly higher mark from one marker than they would from another. In other cases, they might be given a slightly lower mark. This does not mean that either mark is wrong”.
DfE “Consultation on implementing the compulsory EBacc”
This is not a consultation about the principle of the compulsory Ebacc. Nearly 50% of all the questions are about teacher recruitment and retention. On this point, the consultation asks questions like: “What additional central strategies would schools like to see in place for recruiting and training teachers in EBacc subjects?”
OCR will be contributing its views to all the above. If you have ideas on any of these consultations, take a break from the Christmas festivities and get in touch via the links below.
National reference tests - DfE - Deadline: Friday 22 January 2016
What is the purpose of education? - Education Select Committee inquiry - Deadline: Monday 25 January 2016
Use of calculators - Ofqual – Deadline: Monday 11 January 2016
Maths/Further Maths - Ofqual – Deadline: Monday 11 January 2016
Careers guidance select committee inquiry - Education, Skills and the Economy select committee – Deadline: Wednesday 20 January 2016
Marking reviews, appeals, grade boundaries and Code of Practice - Ofqual – Deadline: Friday 11 March 2016
Ofqual Consultation on Final Entries to Legacy GCSEs, AS and A Levels - Deadline: Tuesday 2 February 2016
Ofqual New Statutory Guidance: Consultation on New Statutory Guidance to Support the General Conditions of Recognition - Deadline: Sunday 31 January 2016
Implementing the EBacc – DfE - Deadline: Friday 29 January 2016
Margaret Kerry - Chief Development Officer
Margaret Kerry is Chief Development Officer at OCR, with oversight of the reach and impact of all OCR qualifications and the whole range of customer support. Amongst her responsibilities is leading the subject teams which provide expert advice and support to OCR schools and centres, and the reform team which is responsible for the technical development of all new qualifications in line with Ofqual and DfE requirements.
Margaret has been in education since 1993, having originally qualified as a Chartered Accountant. Before joining OCR in 2007, she spent 12 years at Ofsted, including leading teams of inspectors in secondary schools. She has also been involved in school governance for 11 years, as chair of governors at a primary school and as a governor of a Cambridgeshire Village College.