Emily Oakes, Grant Robertson and Mike Goddard - OCR History Subject Advisor
In the past weeks, we’ve been running online Q&A events to give you a chance to ask subject-specific questions about this year’s grading process. This followed our roundtable video, which gives suggestions on how to use support materials and answers many general grading questions. In this blog, we’ll summarise the questions asked at our History Q&A event.
It’s a holistic approach and you need to use your professional judgement in order to come to an overall grade. Consider the quality of the evidence that you have and the level of control etc. Review the evidence and read through the grade descriptors. Match the student’s evidence to the suitable statements within the grade descriptors. Remember, a student’s collection of evidence may contain characteristics from different grade descriptors.
For example, a student may show characteristics of a Grade 6 in one area, perhaps in dealing with sources in the Living under Nazi Rule study, and characteristics of a Grade 2 in another area, e.g. dealing with interpretations in The Elizabethans. For assistance with making grading decisions in such situations, please refer to worked examples.
Once the grades are received, every centre will be asked to provide samples of student work. Exam boards will request at least the following evidence:
Centres that offer only A Levels or only GCSEs will be asked to submit only work for those qualifications.
All centres will be asked to provide the evidence used to determine the grades for the students selected. Exam boards will decide on the subjects and the students (selected from across the grade range, and potentially including private candidates where centres have accepted them).
November 2020 was an atypical year. The last ‘regular’ exam series was 2019. Use the grade boundaries as a guide, but do remember, it is a holistic look at the evidence for the student.
There isn’t a requirement to use the additional assessment materials and turn the result into a grade. The mark might suffice when compared to grade descriptors and exemplification.
Again, it comes back to taking a holistic approach. You need to consider the evidence as a whole across the subject and the quality of the evidence holistically should guide you. Consider elements like the coverage of assessment objectives, content etc.
It doesn’t need to be every aspect of the specification, the aim is to include evidence that shows the student’s ability across the range of content taught and, where possible, all assessment objectives. This means that evidence from your unit 3 topic does not necessarily have to account for 40%, as it would in a normal examination year.
You can include Y100 as part of your evidence, should you wish, even if it is only partially complete. The JCQ have published a guide to using partially complete NEA.
The written record for each candidate will not need to be extensive in most cases. Given the requirement for consistent sources of evidence across a class or cohort, what many centres are doing (and it seems a very sensible approach) is making a record at class or cohort level of what evidence they have used and why, and then for each candidate just confirming that they have used that evidence.
If they have moved away from that consistency (e.g. because someone was ill for a mock or similar) then they have noted that for the candidate in question. They would also note if they had needed to take into account a failure to provide access arrangements, or special consideration, or anything like that. Finally, if the candidate was in any way borderline, they would explain why they went for one grade and not another.
So effectively in some cases you will have very little to write because the candidate had the same evidence as everyone else, there were no circumstances to take into account and nothing much to say on the grading determination as it was very straightforward. In others there will be a longer record. It is completely up to the centre how they want to record the information about the grading determination, but there are some templates that JCQ has produced that you may find helpful.
If you have further questions about this summer’s grading process, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @ocr_history. You can also sign up to subject updates and receive information about resources and support.
All advice and guidance provided by awarding bodies regarding arrangements for summer 2021 undergoes ratification by the JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications). This is to ensure that awarding bodies provide consistent information to centres. The content of the above blog is currently being reviewed by the JCQ and is therefore potentially subject to some change in wording.
Emily has 13 years’ experience teaching and leading in history as well as two years teaching at an international school in France. She has a BA in Archaeology from UCL and a MA in Medieval History from UEA along with a PGCE from University of Cambridge. When she’s not working, Emily likes spending time outdoors with her family, gardening and reading.