No. These activities are provided as supporting materials to assist you to whatever extent you require. The activities have been cross-referenced to the Practical Endorsement criteria, trialled, and reviewed by CLEAPSS. You may use the activities as is, adapt them to suit your situation, or use them as exemplars in your planning.
Alternatively, you may select other activities provided by third parties or that you have developed yourself, as long as these cover the requirements of the Practical Endorsement. However, centres should trial and carry out a risk assessment of all practical activities themselves, even if they have been reviewed by OCR and CLEAPSS, before undertaking them with learners.
Many of the required skills – e.g. following instructions, making observations and measurements, and keeping records – will be covered routinely using any practical activities. Select the activities that you wish to undertake and then check these against the Common Practical Assessment Criteria (CPAC) and the skills, techniques and apparatus listed in 1.2.1 and 1.2.2 of the specification. Check that students have opportunities to routinely and consistently demonstrate the competencies described.
If you are unsure whether the practical activities you have selected meet certain criteria, you can ask OCR for advice through firstname.lastname@example.org.
No. You may check yourself whether they are suitable by cross-referencing against the assessment criteria as described above.
Yes. You can adapt the activities provided by OCR and make sure that they are still mapped to existing assessment criteria, or if your activity is assessing a different set of skills map it yourself to the relevant criteria.
Yes. You can map them against the assessment criteria. You may also find that some existing centre activities work better, so use them instead.
No. There is no need to report every change in your planning to OCR. If you decide to change the activities that you will be doing then just continue as normal and ensure that you have recorded the competencies that have been met in the new planned activities.
If a student misses a practical activity through absence, then there is no requirement for that activity to be repeated as there may be other opportunities in the two-year course for the student to display some of the required skills and competencies.
However, if near the end of the two-year course you feel that there are students who've not achieved all the competencies required by the assessment criteria (CPAC), then you can arrange a mutually convenient time to allow those students to display the appropriate skills and techniques.
Centres are required to have the following records available for the Monitor to review:
The first five in this list can be met through the completion of the OCR PAG Tracker spreadsheet available on OCR Interchange.
No. There is no requirement for students’ work to be marked, and there are no mark schemes for the PAG activities provided by OCR.
Teachers may wish to mark students’ work in the context of providing feedback, or to comply with the centre’s own marking policies. That is fine, but it is a centre decision to do so.
Students should keep records that are appropriate to each activity. This should as a minimum include the title and date for each activity, and relevant observations and measurements. Students would not be expected to copy out complete sets of instructions in full, though they should record any modifications or additions made to a basic method provided.
Where students are making decisions about which practical work to carry out, for example in investigations, they will need to make a note of their methods.
It is important that students record their practical experiences in their own ways. Their records could be in lab books, ring binders or an electronic record. It is up to the centre how they want the students to record their practical activities and observations. Over time, they should demonstrate that they are able to make decisions about what information to include, and how to present it.
These skills form part of the assessment of the Practical Endorsement, through CPAC4. For this reason, OCR does not provide exemplars or templates.
No. The format of the student record is not prescribed. It may be a lab book, but could also be a folder or ring binder to collect loose pages, or a collection of records stored digitally. They do not have to be ‘perfect’ lab books – they should be a record of ongoing lab work.
Yes. Each student must keep a record of their practical work, and it must be their personal record.
The teacher must be confident in the ability of their students to successfully complete a practical activity and meet the minimum requirements as stated in the assessment criteria (CPAC). The OCR practical activities are already mapped to the appropriate skills, techniques and apparatus and hence allow teachers to easily identify students who are routinely and consistently displaying these skills. This is easily achieved through the use of the OCR PAG Tracker to log student activities.
The Practical Endorsement is assessed by visiting Monitors. The purpose of the visit is to ensure that the centre is implementing the requirements of the Practical Endorsement appropriately and applying the assessment criteria (CPAC) correctly. The monitoring process will not moderate or adjust the results of individual candidates.
The Monitor will:
The Monitor will be able to offer support and guidance, and answer any questions.
No. The Monitor will look at the approach taken across the subject in the centre. Experiences from the practical activity observed may be used as a starting point for discussions with students and teachers.
The Monitor will not determine or adjust the results of individual students. The teacher will make the judgement as a professional by direct observation at the time the skill is demonstrated.
No. The Monitor is looking for practical activity taking place as a normal part of teaching, and for assessment to be taking place within that context. The Monitor is not expecting to see ‘perfect’ practical work; rather, they would expect to see a level of achievement appropriate to the point in the course.
The monitoring visit is the only quality assurance conducted. You do not need to send any evidence of students’ work or detail of your assessment to OCR. At the end of the A Level course the lead teacher for each science will have to specify a ‘Pass’ or ‘Not classified’ for their learners.
These judgements will be based on the record of the ongoing judgements made by the teachers against the assessment criteria either in paper format or through the use of the OCR PAG Tracker, which is designed to help with this process.
The Monitor will make contact with the registered lead teacher two to four weeks before the monitoring visit. A mutually convenient date and timetable for the day will be agreed.
Each centre will receive one monitoring visit for one science in the period January 2016 to May 2017. Large centres, which have more than 140 students for any one science, will receive visits in that period for all sciences.
You will be given details of what actions need to be taken. There will be a follow-up visit to confirm that the remedial actions have been taken. The other sciences at your centre will receive a monitoring visit from their board.
The work done for the Practical Endorsement will be excellent preparation, but will not necessarily completely prepare students for the exams.
In terms of skills, the Practical Endorsement will prepare students well for the Implementing skills and to an extent for Planning skills. However, bear in mind that students may be asked to demonstrate these skills in any practical context. Analysis and Evaluation skills are not assessed through the Practical Endorsement, but they can easily be developed through the practical work done towards the Endorsement. Many of the OCR PAG activities contain sections of Analysis and Evaluation questions that can help with this teaching and learning.
Additionally, there are some areas of practical work that are not covered in the Practical Endorsement, e.g. redox titrations in Chemistry, which also need to be taught. The practical planning tables in the Practical Skills Handbooks can be used to fully plan a practical scheme of work.
If a student moves centres halfway through a course then they can take their current lab work with them as the Practical Endorsement is a cross-board requirement. The former centre should make arrangements to transfer its record of judgements to the new centre.
The new centre may require the student to undertake some further practical activities to demonstrate some of the competencies required and ensure that the student has routinely and consistently been observed displaying such skills and techniques.
No. The Practical Endorsement will not contribute to the A Level grade and will be reported as ‘Pass’ or ‘Not classified’. This will remain the same whatever the final A Level grade.
A pass in the Practical Endorsement may be carried forward and used alongside the grade achieved in re-sitting the exams, even if this is with a different exam board.
The majority of universities will ask for a pass at offer stage for STEM subjects and this will be made clear in their entry criteria for a specific course. Admissions requirements are under the control of universities, and vary by course and institution. The universities will take on students at their own discretion and hence this should not be a deterrent to students when applying.