Andy Brunning, OCR Chemistry and Geology Subject Advisor
Need support delivering our specifications and preparing students for their exams? Our subject advisor team is here to help. In this blog I’ll provide a brief overview of the role and function of our subject advisors and the ways in which we can support you as you deliver our qualifications.
Our subject advisors are knowledgeable, passionate and trusted experts who support and advocate for you, our customers. We come from a range of backgrounds and previous contexts, but most of us are former teachers and we all have an in-depth understanding of our qualifications and assessments. We provide advice on the delivery and assessment of both our general and vocational qualifications, and deliver your feedback on our qualifications to the other departments in OCR to influence decision-making.
A key facet of our role is to provide high quality and accessible support to our centres. You can contact us to get practical advice and answers to your questions, however complex. We use a variety of channels to support you, from events (such as webinars, teacher conferences and networks) to responding to your direct emails, and even offering bookable online calls with us to field your questions. We also listen to your feedback on your experience of teaching our qualifications and advocate for your needs within OCR, ensuring you have the level of support you expect.
We often speak at external conferences and subject events where we provide support to teachers. Our talks cover topics ranging from introducing new qualifications to how the specification works, and from the structure of our exams to introducing new resources, professional development, or support. We run a significant number of networks, both face-to-face and online, where we support teachers in the delivery and assessment of our qualifications. We also gather information from these events in order to inform our planning for both current and future qualifications. We’re keen to inspire those new to the world of education and assessment. To start relationships early, we also work with a range of higher education institutions offering teacher training.
Not really. We do deliver courses introducing our qualifications to prospective teachers of them, as well as running Q&A sessions. But we have excellent trainers to deliver the specific teaching and learning training in our professional development courses. What we do is quite different but no less important. We provide opportunities for centres to gather and share ideas, we facilitate discussion, and we actively listen to understand your perspectives, needs and priorities. Our overarching purpose is to provide the best possible support and guidance for you, our teachers, and also to convey your feedback to the other departments within OCR. This feedback is used to make decisions about small things like new resources, all the way up to big things like qualification redevelopment.
We also provide you with assessment-related support. For example, in networks and free webinars, such as Q&As, you will often hear us demystifying grade boundaries or dissecting exam questions in order to provide you with a greater understanding of the assessment process.
A key part of our work involves positioning OCR as an authoritative voice within subject communities. Our team is well-informed about education policy and the factors that affect our subjects. We proactively engage and collaborate with a diverse range of stakeholders, including royal societies, subject associations and publishers to get their feedback on our qualifications and resources and harness their expertise. This helps shape the changes to and future development of our qualifications.
No. Subject advisors need to be ‘uncontaminated’ (meaning we can’t see exam papers before they are sat). We are not standardised assessors, so we aren’t involved in the marking of papers, either, although we work with our assessors to help teachers understand the application of the mark scheme after the exam is sat.
We respond to any concerns you might have after your students have sat their exams, as well as post-results day queries. We also quality assure materials including examiners’ reports and candidate exemplars to ensure they provide the accurate and valuable insight you look to them for.
As well as face-to-face and online events, social and digital media are a key part of the work we do. We provide support content for you through a range of channels, including blogging and subject-specific social media feeds. We often use our blogs as an opportunity to highlight issues in our subjects or provide suggestions for you to contextualise or broaden the content of our specifications, be it highlighting Black British pioneers in science or incorporating climate change topics into your biology or geography lessons. Our blogs also support you at key points in the year, for example letting you know about the support available to you around results days.
Want to know more about any of the above, including our networks and other events? You can comment below, email us at email@example.com, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @ocrexams. You can also sign up to subject updates to keep up-to-date with the latest news, updates and resources for your subject.
Andy joined OCR in September 2017 as the subject advisor for A Level Chemistry. He has a Chemistry BSc and a Secondary Science PGCE from the University of Bath. Before joining OCR, he worked as a chemistry teacher in Bournemouth and Cambridge. He also sidelines as a science communicator and has produced infographic projects for the Royal Society of Chemistry and the American Chemical Society.