Vinay Thawait – Subject Advisor, Computer Science, IT and Creative iMedia
Here at OCR we’ve had lots of queries from centres in recent weeks about marking coursework, or non-exam assessment (NEA). For A Level Computer Science (H446), this means the programming project.
There have been questions about how to apply the mark scheme. This isn’t surprising as it hasn’t been assessed for two years, so a larger number of teachers than normal will be submitting marks for moderation for the first time. We’ve also had questions about administrative requirements, and most particularly about whether any allowances should be made when marking for the abnormal and difficult circumstances many students have had to contend with while completing their assignments.
Regarding that last point, the JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications) have recently released guidance, which makes it clear that all NEA must be marked in the same way as before the pandemic disruption. This is really important, as it will help ensure that all students’ work is marked to the same standards.
As the JCQ guidance also says, the 2022 grading process that takes place after marking, when the grade boundaries are set, will provide a safety net. So please don’t think that by marking your students’ work to pre-pandemic standards this year, you are in any way doing them an injustice. (For more on 2022 grading, please see this Ofqual article from September last year.)
In the light of that recent JCQ announcement, and the queries we’ve had from you, we thought it would be helpful to provide a quick summary of the support available to ensure that you are marking to the correct standard.
There are several resources that will help you have confidence in your application of the marking criteria for H446:
General information on NEA administration is available on our website.
For A Level Computer Science specifically, please note that there is a non-exam assessment cover sheet on the Administration section of our A Level Computer Science web pages. You must complete this for each candidate you entered for certification.
The A Level programming project gives candidates the opportunity to go through the process of developing a substantial piece of software. In order to be able to access the full range of marks available, candidates need to develop a project with enough scope and depth to allow them access to the upper mark bands for each section of the marking criteria.
We hope that your students enjoy analysis, designing, developing the coded solution and testing, and evaluating the programming project using an acceptable high-level object-oriented programming language. Each year we’re really impressed to see the range and diversity of programming projects submitted.
Remember, students will need to choose a well-defined user driven problem in liaison with their teacher. The subject advisors can offer project advice/feedback on centres’ submitted project ideas. Details on the requirement for submitting project ideas is detailed in our project setting guidance document. This document also includes suggestions on project types that you could discuss with your students as a starting point.
Finally, we will, as always, be offering CPD on H446 in the next school academic year. Keep an eye on the Professional Development section of our website and be sure to have signed up for Computer Science subject updates (details below) to get details of when these become available.
If you have any questions, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_ICT. You can also sign up to receive email updates about resources and support.
Vinay joined OCR in July 2014 to support the GQ reform and development of the AS and A-Level Computer Science qualifications. Since then, he has been involved in the development of the reformed GCSE (9-1) Computer Science and Entry Level Computer Science and recently with the redevelopment of Cambridge National in IT qualification. Before joining OCR, Vinay spent more than 20 years in IT and Computer Science teaching and leadership roles, working for several schools as well as local authorities educational support team. He was the National Bid Lead for the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) initiative within Capita IT, and also the Head of Operations for an audio-visual educational software development company. Vinay has a degree, three post-graduate masters and NPQH from Warwick, Coventry, and Nottingham Universities.