Ewan Brady, OCR Religious Studies 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, I’ll summarise the questions asked at our Religious Studies Q&A event.
The evidence doesn’t need to cover 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.
Consider whether the evidence is sufficient. If not, assessment materials provided by us could be used to supplement or help confirm student performance.
For general qualifications (GCSE, AS and A Level) a ‘range’ means that different types of evidence can be used: for example, mock exams, internal assessments, homework essays, as well as evidence of different parts of the specification being covered such as, Philosophy of Religion, Religion and Ethics and Developments in Christian Thought. The JCQ Guidance has much more information about this.
A couple of key things to bear in mind are, that whilst this evidence is not being prescribed by exam boards, it does need to be as consistent as possible for all your students, unless there is a good reason why the work would not be representative, for example, a student or students missed more content than their peers because of self-isolation, or they have experienced adverse circumstances (more on that in a bit). This is to ensure that your grading judgements are consistent for your students in your centre.
You’ll need evidence to support that a student is working at the grade you have determined they deserve. This evidence is not being prescribed by exam boards, but does need to be as consistent as possible for all your students, unless they have experienced adverse circumstances. This is to ensure that your grading judgements are consistent for your students in your centre.
Please check the JCQ publication A guide to the special consideration process to see the types of adverse circumstances a student might experience in a normal year of examinations.
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.
Holistically! Grade descriptors will help you identify how the range of evidence for each student aligns with the expected performance standards. There are a number of steps:
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. Read through the grade descriptors. Match the student’s evidence to the suitable statements within the grade descriptors.
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, and characteristics of a Grade 2 in another area. For assistance with making grading decisions in such situations, please refer to the JCQ 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). Check out the recent blog from Ofqual for more on this.
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_RS. You can also sign up to subject updates and receive email 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.
Ewan Brady joined OCR as a subject specialist in June 2014. Since joining OCR Ewan has been responsible for a number of subjects including Sociology, Government and Politics and Law. He took over responsibility for Religious Studies as Subject Advisor in 2017.
Ewan taught for 16 years in Scotland and England and has eight years of leadership experience in humanities, teaching subjects including History, Law, Politics, Citizenship and Religious Studies.
In his spare time Ewan enjoys walking, watching sport, going to the cinema and playing video games with his family.