So, you’ve been told you’re running Cambridge Nationals and/or Cambridge Technicals within your school or college for the first time. Where do you start?
The good news is there’s lots of support available for you and, once you're comfortable with how they work, both qualifications are straightforward to administer.
In this blog I wanted to focus on the different entry models.
You might also find our flow charts which summarise this information and provide some hints and tips of what to watch out for useful:
Cambridge Nationals are vocational qualifications, equivalent to GCSEs, for 14–16 year olds. Recognised on performance tables, each qualification goes from Level 1 to 2.
Cambridge Nationals are unitised qualifications and the units which make up each qualification, including the rules of combination, are available in the entry codes document. Some of you may remember running unitised GCSEs and A Levels – if you do that’s great. If you’re more familiar with the reformed linear GCSEs and A Levels, I realise this comparison doesn’t help you much so here’s a quick summary.
Cambridge Nationals are series based and all units, both externally and internally assessed, are available every January and June. A limited number of internally assessed units are also available in November. November availability does vary between subjects so check the specification or the entry codes booklet for the availability for each subject.
Your students don’t need to be registered for the qualification in advance; you simply enter each individual unit in the series you want them to be assessed by the relevant entry deadline. At the end of the course, you make a free certification entry (‘cash-in’) to pull together all of the unit results into an overall subject grade.
If students want to retake the examined units, there are resit rules, which are available from the entry rules page.
Recognised on 16-18 performance tables, Cambridge Technicals are vocational qualifications at Levels 2 and 3 for students aged 16+.
They are unitised qualifications and the units which make up each qualification, including the rules of combination, are available in the entry codes booklet. We’ve also produced a rules of combination calculator for teachers to use which is available from the Technicals qualification pages under 'Planning Resources' in the Administration section.
Although, like Cambridge Nationals, Cambridge Technicals are unitised qualifications, they work differently.
First, you register your students up front by making qualification entries. This qualification entry allows you to access the moderation for the centre-assessed units. These are available on-demand so you don’t need to make separate unit entries.
The examined units are series-based – they’re available in January and June so you need to make test unit entries for the relevant series by the relevant deadline. There’s no deadline to make qualification entries but you can only make test unit entries once the qualification entries have been processed – please allow 48 hours.
Once a student has achieved enough units for the qualification they’re entered for, and you have made sure these are the right combination, we’ll automatically issue the full award and send out a certificate.
Resit rules are available from the entry rules page.
Paul Jones - Senior Customer Support Manager
Paul is the Senior Customer Support Manager. The Customer Support Team provides support, training and guidance for centres administering OCR qualifications. Before joining the Customer Support Team Paul worked in the Operational Hub and as a Qualifications Manager. His experience in these roles has given Paul a diverse range of knowledge that helps to assist and support our customers.