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Why I'm changing from AQA to OCR


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#91 Mark H.

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 12:11 PM

My pupils were happy with both AQA papers. They have become pretty predictable-the paper 1 operates in a two year cycle, for example. We are planning to stay put, but as with others, I am fed up of the low ratio of A*s to As. Unfortunately I was unable to go to our local AQA expo to express my concerns on this score.

Edited by Mark H., 13 June 2008 - 12:11 PM.

In memory of my boyhood hero Jim Clark (1936-1968): 'Chevalier Sans Peur et Sans Reproche'.

#92 Roy Huggins

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 04:55 PM

As for the new specifications, AQA look to have simplified their papers so I'll be staying put. Why are OCR insisting on such a heavy amount of international relations content with their new specification?


The big mistake that most folks make when looking at the OCR spec is that they think that you have to study from 1919 - 1988. If you look at the eam paper you can concentrate on 1919 - 1939 or 1945 - 1988. We do the 1919 - 1939 topics on the Treaty of Versailles, League of Nations and the Steps to the 2WW. In the exam students only have to answer questions on two topics and can easily avoid topics they don't like.

Whats the crack with AQA. I haven't looked at the syllabus. They asked me to look over the new exam paper and the language looked 100% better. I don't discount going back to AQA, but as other folks have noted within the exam sub forums, they are very very reliable and predictable!

Roy :jester:
"Men are disturbed, not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen." - Epictetus

#93 CD McKie

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 05:50 PM

As for the new specifications, AQA look to have simplified their papers so I'll be staying put. Why are OCR insisting on such a heavy amount of international relations content with their new specification?


The big mistake that most folks make when looking at the OCR spec is that they think that you have to study from 1919 - 1988. If you look at the eam paper you can concentrate on 1919 - 1939 or 1945 - 1988. We do the 1919 - 1939 topics on the Treaty of Versailles, League of Nations and the Steps to the 2WW. In the exam students only have to answer questions on two topics and can easily avoid topics they don't like.

Whats the crack with AQA. I haven't looked at the syllabus. They asked me to look over the new exam paper and the language looked 100% better. I don't discount going back to AQA, but as other folks have noted within the exam sub forums, they are very very reliable and predictable!

Roy :jester:

Have a look at the sample paper I've attached for the new OCR specification and you'll see that from 2009 you will not be able to focus only on 1919-1939. It is possible under the current specification, as it is and still will be with AQA. I like the current OCR specification, but they haven't done themselves any favours with their new one.

Attached Files


To you who call yourselves men of peace, I say: You are not safe unless you have men of action on your side.

#94 Wills

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 06:06 PM

I tried my hardest this year to complete key questions 1-6 from OCR international relations 1919-1989 and only got halfway through key question 5 when the exams started so the new spec will be impossible. As it was we had no time for revision lessons. I have highly motivated pupils too but there was no way we could fit it all in. Added to this will be the controlled assessment aspect which will take longer than the coursework we do now. I am really unsure as to what to do for the best, I have liked OCR up to now but the changes are prohibitive. I was also threatened with losing a lesson each week to top it all and I don't think I am the only one in this predicament as history is being squeezed out of many schools' timetables in order to fit in other initiatives.
What is wrong with the old adage "if it aint broke don't fix it"!

#95 Mark H.

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 07:48 PM

Yes-in AQA at the moment even though theoretically you're supposed to teach from 1900-1949 for 'Option W', in practice you can get away with not teaching the start of the Cold War because there is only a question on it in alternate years and even then the students can tackle the other two questions. As a result I've stopped teaching it, saving valuable time in what is a very crowded Specification. AQA have recognised this in their revamped Spec and have reduced content by around 30% in some places, and simplified the needlessly complex structure of Paper II.
In memory of my boyhood hero Jim Clark (1936-1968): 'Chevalier Sans Peur et Sans Reproche'.

#96 Chris Garratt

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 08:37 PM

I tried my hardest this year to complete key questions 1-6 from OCR international relations 1919-1989 and only got halfway through key question 5 when the exams started so the new spec will be impossible. As it was we had no time for revision lessons. I have highly motivated pupils too but there was no way we could fit it all in. Added to this will be the controlled assessment aspect which will take longer than the coursework we do now. I am really unsure as to what to do for the best, I have liked OCR up to now but the changes are prohibitive. I was also threatened with losing a lesson each week to top it all and I don't think I am the only one in this predicament as history is being squeezed out of many schools' timetables in order to fit in other initiatives.
What is wrong with the old adage "if it aint broke don't fix it"!


Edexcel looks good in terms of content - that's where I'm going.
All I ask for is the chance to prove that money won't make me happy. Spike Milligan

#97 Judy G

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 08:14 AM

I've heard Edexcel are the way to go, too. Am going to attend their Expo on this as have never considered this board before. Also - on the issue of modular exams both AQA and Edexcel are going to be offering this option from 2009 - I've not heard that OCR are going in that direction. Exam lengths have been reduced by both AQA and Edexcel. Looking at Edexcel draft papers their exams appear to only last 1 hour 15 minutes.

#98 CD McKie

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 08:45 AM

I've heard Edexcel are the way to go, too. Am going to attend their Expo on this as have never considered this board before. Also - on the issue of modular exams both AQA and Edexcel are going to be offering this option from 2009 - I've not heard that OCR are going in that direction. Exam lengths have been reduced by both AQA and Edexcel. Looking at Edexcel draft papers their exams appear to only last 1 hour 15 minutes.

OCR are also adopting a modular approach, with their Paper 2 available in January 2010 and the other two units in June. Paper 2 will always be available in both January and June, but the other two units will only be available in the summer.

As for Edexcel, I quite like the look of the new specification, but it is the only examination board with four units instead of three. The extra examination, even though it will only be on a limited amount of content, does put me off somewhat.
To you who call yourselves men of peace, I say: You are not safe unless you have men of action on your side.

#99 Roy Huggins

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 12:39 PM

Hi Guys,

Just a quick note, I'll write more later! My OCR pass rate was 64% and our FFT Type 'B' residual was a positive 0.3!

I've been heavily involved in doing some GCSE publishing work and I've seen the new submitted specs. The objection that folks had to OCR has been removed! Its business as usual with no changes if you keep to the existing spec, no need to change to AQA as you only have to do one of the international relations rather than two! However, I'm going to attend both the AQA and OCR courses before I make up my mind!

I refer you back to why we began ouu quest to change from AQA to OCR. Our original pass rate was 27%, which we got back up to 47% with AQA before moving to OCR. I still honestly believe that its the best spec for our kids because the litearcy levels of the questions and the predictability of what is coming up is spot on! For example, nest years Paper 2 will be the Home Front!

Anyway, if its any consolation I'm now offto have two fillings!

Kind Regards

Roy :jester:

Edited by Roy Huggins, 21 August 2008 - 07:25 PM.

"Men are disturbed, not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen." - Epictetus

#100 BarbaraH

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 05:08 PM

To be fair to AQA must report that they are now doing a full re-mark of Paper 1.
Should also say that we sent for photocopy of paper of the boy who got As on five modules and E on the sixth. Turned out it was a clerical error and he'd got full UMS marks on the sixth!
I have no confidence left in the marking process!

#101 Roy Huggins

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Posted 19 April 2009 - 05:59 PM

Hi Guys,

I've produced a AFL and revision pack for the OCR modules on the USA in the 1920s and 30s.

If anyone is interested, I'll happily email them a copy of both resources along with student mark schemes etc. However, I would really appreciate if somone could cast their critical eye over my work and suggest improvements!

Kind Regards

Roy :jester:
"Men are disturbed, not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen." - Epictetus

#102 C Freeman

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Posted 19 April 2009 - 07:39 PM

Hi Roy
I have been with OCR for about ten years and have always had good results 70%-80% A-C grades (but that is with relatively fewer students than you get.) I have been quite happy with them overall. There was a dodgy paper 2 in 1999 but since then everything has gone smoothly. However, last year after doing the same coursework for ten years with no adjustments from the moderator all my students were marked down by 4 marks, i appealed but no joy. I decided to look around at the new specs and have decided to try Edexcel because it's modular, the questions look straightforward and they have a schoolhistory member as one of the examiners who seems quite helpful. My only worry is the admin. side as Edexcel has had its problems there. As you know we have had problems with recruitment due to competition from less academic subjects, the fact we are a Language college so all have to do a language and we are a Catholic college so all have to do RE so that doesn't leave many options for the students. however, so far our numbers have risen and it is looking very
promising and I think it was the fact that the Edexcel course is modular that made a difference, as well as all the other strategies that you suggested. I have yet to attend one of the New spec meetings as they seem to get booked up but I am quite enthusiastic as it is a whole new start.
Good Luck with OCR!
Cath.

#103 Roy Huggins

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 08:40 PM

Hi Guys,

I've just got the go ahead from OCR to deliver the new vocational pilot to two of our vocational classes from September2009. It was a very close thing, but i've managed to squeeze in by the skin of my teeth today. My school has opted for very narrow vocational pathways, so I was looking potentially at losing two GCSE groups, especially as the qualification for the accademic strand was that a student had to be in the top set for science. So by offering OCR MWH in one pathway and the OCR GCSE Pilot in the other - 70% teacher assessed - I make sure that I could offer history has an option to all my students. I would urge anyone in a similar position and believes in the power of history to transform and engage to have a good look at this specification as its content looks brilliant:

http://www.ocr.org.u...ilot/index.html

Kind Regards

Roy :jester:
"Men are disturbed, not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen." - Epictetus

#104 Roy Huggins

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 08:49 PM

Hi Guys,

If anyone does OCR paper 1 USA, you might find the attached AFL and Revision Packs useful. I made them both over the Easter break.. They are designed to be used as you work your way through both courses. They are not perfect and there are still one or two mistakes that I need to iron out, but I've developed similar AFL packages with my team for International relations 1919 - 1939 if anyone is interested as well as stuent performance logs.

Attached File  USA_1930s_AFL___Revision_booklet_FP.doc   809K   669 downloads
Attached File  USA_1930s_AFL___Revision_booklet_2.doc   2.3MB   3158 downloads
Attached File  AFL___Revision_USA_in_the_1920s.doc   299.5K   1050 downloads

Kind Regards

Roy :jester:

Attached Files


Edited by Roy Huggins, 11 June 2009 - 08:52 PM.

"Men are disturbed, not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen." - Epictetus

#105 Roy Huggins

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 01:23 PM

Hi Folks,

Just a quick note to let folks know that I have now finished creating AFL booklets for the whole OCR course, including the British Depth Study. If anyone is interested then I'll email them a copy, but I should warn you that they are big downloads! From what I can gather several major publishing companies are producing similar resources, if anyone wishes to adapt my ideas for publishing then I think that it is only fair that they give me fair accreditation for my ideas.

On the exam front, we continue to do both OCR MWH and the OCR Pilot. Since switching to OCR MWH our results have been significantly better than in the bad old days of AQA, who now seem to have mirrored what OCR have done. I was recently asked to create some exam based AFL resources for Edexcel MWH and several members of my team noted that the mark schemes appeared to suggest that they were significantly easier than OCR MWH. I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on the topic? We are going to look very carefully, later in the year at the possibility of switching.

On the OCR GCSE Pilot front, things are very positive. Both Year 9s and Year 10s have achieved there Year 11 targets which underpins one of two things. That the assessment suits the learning styles of the students or that it is significantly easier. I had several students who significantly achieved positive residuals and went from a target of an E to an A. I would encourage everyone to consider moving their E to D students to the OCR GCSE Pilot if you want to significantly improve your residuals for the school league tables. However, it’s a shame that there isn't an appropriate A Level or Sixth Form qualification for them to go onto as even the A* students wouldn't be able to cope with AS or A2 History.

For the record, I would like to state that I hate the current situation where we have a 'free market' amongst exam boards. We shouldn't have to constantly reviewing exam board syllabuses try to find the 'best option' for our students in order to improve our residuals, but Ofsted and the school league tables have created a diseased system. I'm always amazed at how an Ofsted inspector can walk through the door one day and put a school into special measures and then a few months later come back as an advisor who then coaches the school on how to improve their performance. Once they have conducted their force field analysis, what great plans do they come up with for improving standards? Transforming teaching and learning? No - switch exam boards, change qualifications, don't do GCSEs, do BETECs in other words cheat.

The fact of the matter is that in the 'new educational world' is that some are more equal than others. What do I mean by that, not every kid is destined to be academic, yet when they miss their target and achieve the grade that they deserved everyone blames the teacher. So who is to blame for the declining standards? The teacher who is pressurised by the government, Ofsted and the school, to do 'something' to improve results or a system or a society that refused to accept that the students who don't achieve their academic targets did so because they were not academically bright enough. What is wrong with that? Why is every student expected to pass? Why are teachers careers made and destroyed by the exam results that they did not sit themselves? As educationalists we all know that there is a world of difference between students from an affluent area and those from a poor deprived community. A teachers job is to give everyone an equal opportunity to achieve, to unlock the potential of their students, but we can't change society on our own. Parents have a responsibility to listen to their kids read, help them with their homework and bring then up to be motivated to succeed.

Ultimately, I blame the varying standards between the exam boards, subjects, qualifications and the tyranny of the League tables for the current mess. So long as the fools in Parliament believe that a free market amongst the exam boards and that a Betec or similar qualification is in the same league as a GCSE then, the school league tables will be distorted. You don't raise standards and educational achievement by lowering standards in the exam system. Common sense dictates that the reverse is true. You create a benchmark, a gold standard that students can aspire to and if some students fail to reach it, then society needs to accept that some kids are brighter than others instead of blaming teachers. The current system gives the false impression that certain schools in deprived areas have managed to change water into wine, when all they have done is change exam boards and qualifications. This then puts pressure on the other schools in the area to do the same as Ofsted then uses these improved residuals / statistics to force them down the same route. Ofsted by its very nature has to be seen to be 'improving standards' in order to justify its overated and expensive existance. In the end we end up with an education system that promotes mediocrity whilst the the meritocracy that our democracy was founded on is undermined. It’s the emperor’s new clothes all over again but no one dare say anything because we live in a climate of fear. One day we should erect a monument to those teachers whose careers have been destroyed by League Tables, residuals and Ofsted. However, what politician is brave enough to reverse the failed policies of the past 20 years when they have become a new orthodoxy? Meanwhile, I intend to play the game so that I can survive for another day. I love my job, but I hate the climate of fear and the sham that the education system has become!

Roy :jester:

Edited by Roy Huggins, 27 September 2010 - 09:03 PM.

"Men are disturbed, not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen." - Epictetus




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