Nicola Heath, Psychology Subject Advisor
This blog was originally posted in 2019 by Lucy Carey and Grant Robertson. It has been updated by Nicola Heath.
As subject advisors, we speak to and hear from a vast number of teachers, including some that are new to the profession and others 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 some essential points 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 breaks down 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 (such as 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 all recent and past papers, with the mark schemes and the examiners’ reports, on Teach Cambridge, together with any relevant candidate exemplars for that exam year. Keeping them on this secure site means students will not be able to access them and teachers can therefore use them for mock exams.
Some qualifications have practice papers and mark schemes too. These are extra assessment materials to help with creating questions for your students to try. These are also stored securely on Teach Cambridge.
Many of our qualifications are supported by ExamBuilder, which is our free question-building platform where you can create mock question papers from our range of GCSE and A Level past papers. If you don’t have access to Teach Cambridge or ExamBuilder, make sure you speak to your exams officer, who will be able to provide you with a login and a password.
We have a wide range of teacher support materials on Teach Cambridge, our secure website for teachers. Under the Teaching, Planning and Teaching Delivery tabs you can find useful resources including schemes of work, assessment guides, delivery guides and lesson elements. Teach Cambridge also gives you the option to mark documents as ‘favourites’ to come back to easily at a later date. A feature well worth using from the start of your planning journey.
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 have a “Starting to Teach” course which 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 “Exam review” courses run by assessors with OCR. To look at the range and find your ideal course, visit the professional development website.
We run a number of teacher networks every term. These free events will provide you with a fantastic opportunity to meet your subject advisors and network with like-minded colleagues online or in your local area. Although 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 us 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 ‘forms 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 and activities including professional development events, teacher networks and teaching and assessment resources.
I hope you found these seven items useful. Our final point (we did promise eight 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 number is 01223 553998.
Depending on the nature of your enquiry a subject advisor may also help answer your questions.
Meet our subject advisors and read about how they help to support teachers delivering our specifications. Read our blog about what our subject advisors can do for you.
Share your thoughts in the comments below. If you have any questions, you can email us at email@example.com, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @ocrexams. You can also sign up to subject updates to keep up-to-date with the latest news, updates and resources.
Nicola joined OCR in 2022 as the Subject Advisor for Psychology. Prior to joining OCR, she taught psychology for over 10 years and had various other responsibilities in that time including being Head of Year, SENDCo and Subject Leader for PSHE. Nicola has a personal interest in mental health and wellbeing and enjoys reading, baking and spending time outdoors to relax.