We’re making some improvements to our secure website, Interchange. In this blog, I wanted to give you a brief overview of what will be changing and when and what this will mean for you. The new vocational areas will be available towards the end of the year, with changes for general qualifications being phased in from spring 2018.
Interchange supports every stage of the teaching and exams cycle, allowing you to complete day-to-day administrative functions, e.g. make entries and claims, submit internal assessment marks, view results and assessor reports, and submit GCSE and AS/A Level post-results service requests.
OCR offers both vocational and general qualifications, and, whilst the major assessment steps are similar, there are differences. For example, general qualifications such as GCSEs and AS/A Levels operate within date-driven ‘series’ while many of our vocational qualifications such as Functional Skills and elements of Cambridge Technicals are on-demand.
Acknowledging the differences in how our qualification types are delivered and managed, we’ve decided to create dedicated processes specifically for each of the two qualification types. This has the advantage of allowing us to make processes more fit-for-purpose, but also means that there will be some changes in the way you administer our qualifications.
As the changes will be phased, it’s worth being aware there’ll be a period of transition when some things will look like ‘old Interchange’ and others will be shiny and new!
I’ve summarised some of the key differences and principles for our vocational qualifications below but we’re fully aware that any change to a system also means people need to learn how to use it, so we’re committed to providing you with as much support as we can. As well as the standard step-by-step instructions we provide for Interchange, we’ll create bite-sized videos taking you through each stage of each process. These will be easily accessible in ‘document libraries’ within the new system so you won’t need to go back and forth to the main OCR website.
Plus, to make it easier to know where to go to manage different qualifications, we’ll be providing a single web page which will automatically direct you to the correct system. Before the launch, you’ll also have the opportunity to see some new screens, your centre inbox and have a go at setting up centre users.
Read on for more details of the vocational qualification changes. We’ll provide more details about the general qualifications changes later in the year.
There are some differences in terminology between what you know now and how things will be described in the future. This is because we’re taking the opportunity to align now with the terms that will be used within A2C, which will be piloting for vocational qualifications in September 2018. Although you’ll still need to enter candidates for a qualification and then claim them, the way we describe this will change. The new terms should be self-explanatory, such as returning to the terms ‘registration’ and ‘certification’ but you’ll also see the term ‘make a booking’ when you come to make your entries. We’ll make sure there’s a full glossary of terms for you to use.
We’re moving to a ‘shared form’ approach. Rather than submit a form to OCR, we’ll be working on an online form together. Each form will have a ‘workflow’ associated with it, which will pass the form between you at the centre and us the awarding organisation or ‘AO’. Each organisation and person will have a user inbox where you’ll get notifications of when you need to carry out the next step.
The inbox which helps manage communication for forms is new for Interchange. Not only will you receive notifications about the forms but we’ll also be able to send you specific messages that are just relevant to your centre – these might be related to the qualifications you offer or a process you are carrying out at the time, or general notifications on administering OCR’s qualifications. You’ll also be able to set up notifications to your own email account.
Some of the things you currently complete via paper/electronic forms on our public website will be brought into the fold of Interchange. For example, you’ll no longer have to fill in a PDF form if you want to apply for approval to offer more qualifications – you just need to complete the form within Interchange, which should make it much easier to track and manage. Also, our vocational post-results services will move to within Interchange.
We know this is one of the things you feed back to us all the time so I’m pleased to say that the search for candidates will be vastly improved.
For those of you who use our computer-based test system, Surpass, I’d like to reassure you that the two systems will be integrated, with some tasks moving to Interchange to make it easier for you to administer tests.
We know that within Interchange, user roles and permissions aren’t always as simple as we’d like. So, rather than carry over all the current permissions (as we’re doing with your candidate data), we’re taking the opportunity to start from scratch so we have user roles that do exactly what they say on the tin! We’ll be transferring one centre administrator for each centre and they will then be able to set up the rest of the users. So, this is your chance to have a say – is there a particular permission that doesn’t currently exist that you’d like us to include? Do you have any suggestions about permissions? We’d love to hear from you. Just let us know.
Jane Parsons - Customer Support Manager (South West)
Jane has been working within the education sector for over ten years. She supports schools and colleges across the South West region by attending network meetings, providing information about our qualifications, resources and the support we offer.