Andy Barrott, Head of Research and Technical Standards, Assessment Directorate, OCR
This year, for our new Cambridge Nationals qualifications, we are providing an exceptional autumn 2023 submission opportunity for the non-examined units. We have done this to support the many schools and colleges who were concerned about being able to meet the marks submission deadline of 15 May for the June 2023 series. I wanted to take this opportunity to explain why we’ve taken this approach.
We know from what teachers are telling us that circumstances and disruption levels have varied from school to school – with teacher or student illness, challenges relating to bad weather or from industrial action. The impact of this disruption on the June 2023 series became apparent when we started to receive an unusually high number of marks submission extension requests.
Since this is the first year of the new Cambridge Nationals course and students cannot complete the qualification this summer, we wanted to help schools to prioritise those students who are certificating in legacy qualifications as this summer is the last opportunity to take those legacy assessments.
The exceptional autumn 2023 submission opportunity has therefore been introduced to give teachers more time to carry out the marking and internal standardisation on our new specifications as they do this for the first time.
It also allows teachers to make sure they can give students access to the guided learning hours needed to complete the tasks, if this has not been possible so far. However, the opportunity is not designed to give them additional time to complete or rework their evidence.
Given that the tasks are practical in nature, the time allocated is a guide rather than a set requirement. We aren’t assessing whether students can complete tasks at a certain speed but how successfully they can draw on their knowledge and skills to do the set assignment.
The tasks have been available since the start of the year and the amount of time students spend on them is always controlled by their school or college – as it will be for the time available this term for the autumn submission opportunity.
Our experience in offering unitised qualifications means that all elements of the assessment process, from the standardisation of our moderators through to setting grade boundaries will be the same for students using the exceptional autumn 2023 submission opportunity as the June 2023 series. This helps to provide fairness and comparability for all students this year and beyond.
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Andy is the Head of Research and Technical Standards for OCR, which provides technical support for standards setting in General and Vocational qualifications. He has worked in various roles within the Assessment Directorate over the past 15 years.