Debbie Williams, Computer Science, IT and Creative iMedia Subject Advisor
Our teacher network meetings are a great opportunity to get together with our subject advisors and colleagues teaching the same subject. In this blog I’ll provide a roundup of the headlines and the discussions we had during this term’s meetings.
These free online sessions run from 4pm to 5pm and are specific for a particular course. They allow us to share the latest updates and answer your questions, as well as providing an opportunity for you to discuss teaching and assessment, share ideas, best practice, and pick up tips from others.
I was really pleased to see that over 100 attendees joined our afternoon network. The key topics discussed were:
To start the session, we posed the question ‘What was your summer 2022 like?’ Teachers responded with lots of positive feedback and conversation focused on the updates we had made to the examinations, such as:
This feedback was great to hear. After every event we pass the important feedback from the day over to our product development and assessment management teams, to help shape future exam series even more.
We then went on to hear feedback about video tutorials to support teaching and learning. Teachers quickly raised the need for more practice papers to reflect the new examination format and exemplar answers for high-scoring questions. This feedback will be passed to our development team for review.
During this session, teachers reported back that the number of students opting to study GCSE Computer Science is still growing, which was great to hear.
Finally, we shared our research into digital assessment for computer science with the aim of moving to a digital auto-marked assessment model. We updated our attendees about the trials, which include the digital mock service and multiple-choice questions.
Teachers’ feedback about this work was again positive:
As with every network event, we take all the feedback from teachers to help develop our digital assessment.
Later, our Creative iMedia network took place, focusing on:
We began by summarising the major features of the redeveloped specification. Teachers asked about the candidate exemplars, and we are pleased to announce they will be available in the near future.
We asked attendees which optional unit they were considering teaching this term:
There were also key questions about the best software to use for each unit. Any software that will allow students to be able to develop and share a standalone digital solution for moderation would be suitable. We’ll provide our list of recommendations as soon as possible.
For the redeveloped specification we gave a recap of the “Preparing for the NEA units essential training” events. Visit our Teach Cambridge website to book training, or to download our scheme of work, annotated sample assessment and the student guide to the NEA assignment.
We reminded attendees that the first exam for the new R093 unit for J834 will not be until January 2024. We shared the key dates for assessment, which are on the key dates and timetables page on the public website.
We then moved on to discuss the DfE and Ofqual adaptions and adjustments for J817. The important takeaway is that there will be a return to normal grading of assessment in 2023 but that assessed grades and dropped units from previous years can still be used in calculating final grades.
Finally, we shared our links to the tracker, work plan and demystifying the assessment videos to support teaching for the final year of this qualification.
There were over 50 attendees, both experienced teachers and those new to teaching, with some considering moving to our qualification and keen to learn more. The network focused on:
We shared data from the post-exam series where:
We reminded attendees about our project submission service. We receive hundreds of project proposals each year and give specific feedback back to all the teachers/students. You can email student proposals for the NEA to ComputerScience@ocr.org.uk and we’ll check them for free.
We also reminded you about the project setting guidance. There is CPD on preparing for the NEA and candidate exemplars available for you to access from the website.
We also took the opportunity to hear and discuss some common issues such as students’ projects being more suited to GCSE, the scope being too limited or too big. We also offered advice for adding features to games and quiz type projects to support the scope. This will hopefully be the subject of a future blog post – keep an eye out for it.
As the course is well established, we asked teachers what resources they would like to see developed in future. Some teachers raised some important points about the latest upgrade to ExamBuilder, the overall speed of the system, user-friendliness and search functions for specific questions. This is important and something we’ve already passed back to the product development team.
This network discussed the following:
At this session we began by sharing key dates for assessment which you can find on the key dates and timetables page. The first exam for the new R050 unit, IT in the digital world (for J836), will not be until January 2024.
The DfE and Ofqual adaptions and adjustments for J808 were discussed too. The key message for teachers is there will be a return to normal grading of assessment in 2023 but that assessed grades and dropped units from previous years can still be used in calculating final grades.
We recapped the major features of the redeveloped specification including the new augmented reality unit, R070. There are free TeenTech masterclasses available for teachers and students to attend together. Teachers said that they are not delivering this unit this academic year but intend to do it in Y11.
We shared our online training, ‘Preparing for the NEA units essential training’. We then looked briefly at the other available support including the scheme of works, annotated sample assessment and the student guide to the NEA assignment. All of this is available to download from the Teach Cambridge website. Teachers also asked about CPD training for the redeveloped course: you’ll find all the available courses listed on our events page.
We also shared links to the YouTube video unboxing your assignment R013 which offers advice to teachers on how to prepare candidates for the moderated unit. And we also discussed how to get the best from ExamBuilder to support teaching during the final year of this qualification.
This final network meeting for October focused on the following:
We began with details about the appeal outcomes for our Level 3 IT qualifications and the implications for cohorts in 2024/25. Full information is available from the DfE website.
It is our intention to develop three new Level 3 IT qualifications. Teachers can find out more on the redevelopment webpage You can also register to get involved in the redevelopment.
We invited teachers new to the qualification to take advantage of our advisory support call, and we shared links to our schemes of work and ExamBuilder.
We shared the key dates for assessment which are available on the key dates and timetables page.
The final teacher network event for October ended with a discussion about the important Ofqual adaptions and adjustments. The key message was that there will be a return to normal grading of assessment in 2023 but that assessed grades and dropped units from previous years can still be used in calculating final grades.
As a direct result of these meetings, our next steps will be to:
Now that you have an insight into what a teacher network event involves, check out the teacher network page to book on to our next series of events. In the meantime, if you would like copies of the presentations from any of the meetings mentioned in this blog, please email email@example.com.
And finally, a big thanks from me and the team to everyone who attended and contributed at our events, you’re all amazing!
If you have any questions, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_ICT. You can also sign up to receive subject updates information about resources and support.
Debbie joined the Computing team in September 2022, bringing her knowledge as a teacher and subject leader for IT, Computing and Creative Media. She has over 20 years’ experience of education working in various settings including state schools, private specialist provision, local authority, and as a marker and moderator for exam boards. She has a degree in Technology Management, a PGCE and a Masters in Teaching and Learning.