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Why I'm changing from AQA to OCR


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#121 Stewart Hogg

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Posted 09 October 2010 - 06:27 PM

Fascinating debate.

Slightly OT this but anyways...

In what can only be considered to be a really strange turn of affairs, we have dropped from an 80% pass rate A*-C when I arrived followed by two years of lower results.....

The most baffling thing is that numbers opting have rocketed (100% up since 2008), the quality of teaching observed has been never less than good and the staff delivering the course have been amongst the recognised leaders in T and L in the school.

I wasnt a big fan of the WJEC course we did and changed topics last year to the two USA units (Depth and Outline)but bizarrely the Germany topic was the one done worst. During an LA review this week the pupil voice kids identified Germany as a topic they were sick to the back teeth of...but History was their no.1 option choice for A level....

Having been with OCR since back in 2003 I loved MWH and results were always great at my other schools and I wondered about going back to them but WJEC is holding me at the minute...just hope that we can get the results this year.

#122 Roy Huggins

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Posted 09 October 2010 - 08:03 PM

I am also interested to see if anyone has strong feelings about year 10's suitability for modular exams, I feel that our students massively underperformed because they simply were not ready in the June of year 10 to sit an exam. To put this in perspective, the previous cohort achieved 70% A*-C in the summer of year 11, so something has seriously unravelled. My temptation is to swap from SHP AQA to MWH OCR, stick with the good old fashioned end of year 11 exams - start revising feb 1/2 term onwards in order to prepare thoroughly for exams.


Hi Rebekah,

My students have always found the MWH OCR British Depth Study - Paper 2 - challenging. My Year 11s who did the legacy paper in June did about one grade worse against their targets on the depth study, whilst they did about one and a half grades better on international relations 1919 - 1939. Interestingly, both my Year 10s & 9s did significantly better on the new modular OCR MWH British depth study paper than the Year 11s. I put that down to two factors, firstly the changes to our timetable have resulted in our Year 11s losing 27% of their curriculum time so as a result we barely had time to revise the first part of the course and secondly, our Year 9s & 10s benefitted from the new AFL and revisions packs that we have developed within my department. The great thing is that, all those who missed their targets can retake them in January 2011 when either the sufferagettes or the FWW Home Front will come up!

In terms of entering students early, there are clearly positive and negative aspects. However, our diseased exam system now means that practice now makes perfect as modularisation finally crashes into history! However, be warned that you can only enter children twice for the same OCR module exam!

On the two year KS3 front, I recently calculated for my SEF that as a result of moving to a two periods for delivering GCSE history, that last Years 11 lost 27% of the curriculum time, whilst my Year 10 as (Now Year 11s) have lost 47% of their curriculum time! We were promised that our Year 9s would benefit from having an extra year to do their GCSEs, but when I did the maths they actually ended up with exactly the same amount of curriculum time as if they had done it three periods a week over 2 years! I would urge anyone who has been promised a brave new world by switching to a three year GCSE to do the Maths. So where has all the history curriculum time gone, I hear you say? What has happened to the two periods a week that my KS3 students used to do in Year 9 before we moved to a two year KS3 and doing their options in Year 8? You'll never guess? Thats right - BETECs? I wonder why? :unsure:


Kind Regards

Roy :jester:

Edited by Roy Huggins, 09 October 2010 - 09:31 PM.

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

#123 Roy Huggins

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Posted 09 October 2010 - 08:19 PM

Hi Folks,

It was with some interest that I read the article about Katherine Birbalsingh on page 31 of the Daily Mail, whilst munching on my pub meal today!

I must admit that I do admire her for pointing out the problems that we are all facing within teaching due to league tables, dumbing down of standards in the exam system and the climate of fear that we are all operating under. She certainly seems to have undergone very similar experiences within modern foreign languages and drawn very similar conclusions. However, either great minds think alike or she has been lifting points and phrases from my recent posts in this thread!

Ultimately, I don't mind and I suppose as the old saying goes mimicry is supposed to be the most sincerest form of flattery! I wish her luck, but the vested interests arrayed against her are just too powerful and I can't see her getting another job in education. Politicians and parents don't want to know the truth about whats happening in education, they all want to believe the new orthodoxy. God knows it’s only time before I'm rumbled for being a heretic for nailing my posts virtually to a church door in Wittenberg :no:

Kind Regards

Roy :jester:

Edited by Roy Huggins, 09 October 2010 - 09:33 PM.

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

#124 j hewson

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 08:20 AM

Well if it's your posts that are going to be nailed to the church door, Roy, they'd better take the rest of ours with them too, because there aren't many out here who would disagree with you. I did a one year (supposedly double the number of lessons per fortnight) with year 10 last year and found that I was the equivalent of a month's worth of lessons short than had they done the course over 2 years. An idea which my school has now, thankfully, dropped; that is, when I have finished with the equivalent year 11 group who had another option to do in year 10.

#125 JohnP

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 11:36 AM

I work with someone who knows KB and though she didn't tell me this I'll bet she's angling for a Tory seat. It has all the hallmarks of a Tory on the make - slag off everything in public and hope that you're picked up as the voice of sanity in an insane world. I'm assured she does come on this site, also!!

#126 Roy Huggins

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 04:45 PM

Hi John,

You've made some interesting points - i did notice that she didn't criticise Ofsted who are of course the chief culprits in forcing schools to dumb down in order to improve their exam results, nor did she directly criticise league tables so maybe she does partially buy into the new orthodoxy.

I'm all for genuinely improving teaching and learning standards, but only fool would believe that it can only be achieved by beating teachers over the head with Ofsted and league tables.

Roy :jester:

Edited by Roy Huggins, 13 October 2010 - 11:15 PM.

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

#127 Roy Huggins

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 11:14 AM

Hi Folks,

I have read some of Katherine Birbalsingh articles and I would like to take it back as she does criticise Ofsted and the way that the League Table system is used. The fact that she has resigned or been dismissed backs up my point that anyone who dares question the new orthodoxy is doomed to be have their career destroyed. However, as a union rep I would like to challenge a comment made on Sky News today that its the unions who are contributing to the climate of fear against criticising the the dumbing down of the education system. Its managers, backed up by Ofsted advisors who are enforcing the new orthodoxy that is undermining standards. The power and influence of unions in education has never been weaker. Unions do not write the Ofsted criteria by which lessons and schools are supposedly judged and how league tables opperate. In both cases the unions have consistently opposed them from the beginning. The unions are only powerful when they have the undivided support of their members. The new system is designed to divide and rule and set school against school in a fight for survival in the league tables. If you believe in the role of the free market then this is a good thing, but if you believe in standards and providing a universal service for all, then the current system is fundamentally floored. The pressure that is then applied to schools is then transferred into teachers who then hunt down the easiest exam boards, which then in turn transfers to a further declining in standards which creates the vicious circle that we currently find ourselves in! :no: However, if you set the standards in stone, stop the devaluation of GCSEs in comparison to Bectecs and create a national exam board, then you might be able to reverse some of the damage that has been done and get a fair comparison of schools. However, don't be surprised if the League Tables then tell you that schools in deprived areas, which have parents who themselves have low literacy and numeracy levels, don't do so well! Why anyone would want to invest millions in telling you the obvious beats me! :unsure:

Roy :jester:

PS I'm going to stop posting in this thread for a while as I don't want to attract anymore undue attention that might cause me to lose my job!

Edited by Roy Huggins, 17 October 2010 - 01:25 PM.

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

#128 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 11:31 PM

The following are (slightly rephrased) comments from readers of this thread who would prefer to remain anonymous:

An academy in West Yorks made their Humanities / Citizenship / PSHCE teams write a joint, themed, curriculum for year 7. Catch, it HAD to cover the criateria for several units of a BTEC. Kids getting this PASSED the BTEC criteria and were rated as level 3/4 by their history teacher.....

GCSE in Functional Maths. No expert in this but I'd like to know how it can be delivered in less than a day, as has been the case in two schools I know of. I hope / assume that its an integral part of 'a real' maths qualification but if that is the case, the question 'why bother?' springs to mind.

Question: is an NVQ Level 2 in " Controlled parking Environments" really as hard as analytical questions on a Level 2 History paper??? Just how hard is it to clamp someone for being 5 minutes late?

Did you know: I can set a task for year 7 of designing a 'medieval world theme park' as a homework project. The pupils create 'medieval world', make models, annoate things and have to explain why they'd include things in their little theme park. They do this, they tend to hit L5 NCAT criteria. Do exactly the same in a BTEC in Leisure and Tourism and they've got a merit (ie. a GCSE B equivalent), although I suspect that the make belief theme park may need to be replaced with an 'actual' theme park....

I'm appalled that the most intelligent and diligent kids I worked with went away with 8 or 9 passes at GCSE and a few years later much lesser pupils, academically at least, are able to say they've got the equivalent of 12 or more (higher graded) GCSE's..... totally and utterly wrong.

#129 Roy Huggins

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Posted 22 January 2011 - 06:10 PM

Hi Folks,

I was pleased with the exam paper on Friday. I got it right again, suffragettes verses Suffragists and women during the FWW. The modular approach makes it slightly harder to correctly guess what will come up!

So the summer's exam should be on the Home Front or the Liberal Reforms. It was DORA last January exam, so I would imagine that the smart money would be on recruitment, propaganda and censorship in some form or another. However, I'm still slightly suspicious that they will try and pull a fast one and run with the Liberal Reforms again. Failing that, I'd expect a question that combines the two and looks at some of the economic factors that drove men to join up or something on rationing that links into poverty.

Kind Regards

Roy :jester:

Edited by Roy Huggins, 22 January 2011 - 06:10 PM.

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

#130 Roy Huggins

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 12:43 AM

Q: Why does history repeat itself? A: Because they didn't learn the first time around - here we go again!

Daily Telegraph Investigation - update


14 December 2011

WJEC has undertaken an in-depth internal investigation into the issues raised by the Daily Telegraph after their undercover visits to training courses run by awarding organisations in England. We are extremely concerned about the allegations made by the paper, and are co-operating fully with regulators in England (Ofqual) and in Wales (DfES) in their investigations. We have yet to see the full versions of the recordings made by the Daily Telegraph, but we understand that these will be made available to awarding organisations within the next few days.

We wish to assure teachers, students and parents that they can have full confidence in the standards of qualifications offered by WJEC and in the integrity of our work in supporting teachers through professional development courses and specialist advice.

The standard of our qualifications and assessment is carefully upheld by WJEC and strictly monitored by the regulators. Statistical analyses carried out each year as part of the awarding process has shown that the standards of WJEC qualifications are comparable with that of all the main awarding organisations.

Our internal investigation into the allegations regarding GCSE History has established that:

* the security and integrity of future examinations has not been compromised by the examiners' comments
* delegates to our training course would not have benefited unfairly from the advice they received: the information conveyed is available to all teachers and not only to those able to attend the course

The cyclical distribution of topic areas across sections of our GCSE History exams over a period of years is clearly set out in a Teachers' Guide available on WJEC's public website, and a similar cyclical pattern can also be found in other awarding organisations' GCSE History specifications.

With respect to the comments made on the optional unit 'The Development of the USA, 1929 - 2000', we are clarifying information regarding the depth and breadth of study required for this unit on our website and via postal and email alerts to teachers, to avoid misunderstanding.

The wording used by the GCSE History examiners to deliver advice to delegates at the course attended by the Daily Telegraph reporters was unacceptable and inappropriate. This example - by two individuals from a total of over 5,000 examiners who work for WJEC - is not typical of the professional content of the training courses we provide for teachers throughout England and Wales.

Given the information received to date from the Daily Telegraph, discussions with Ofqual and other concerned parties, we will be taking the following actions:

* We will monitor future professional development courses, for example by recording them and ensuring that senior staff attend a representative sample
* We will improve the quality of advice and guidance we provide for contributors to courses and will review our contractual arrangements with them
* We will review the use of past examination exemplars covered within the courses
* We will maintain the rigorous checks we apply to all our specifications and support materials, as part of our continuous improvement processes

As a result of our initial internal investigations, we will also be conducting a full review of the rationale, aims, delivery methods and controls for our CPD programme, and we would welcome any joint review of this area, which could usefully be facilitated by the regulators.

A reference was made by the Daily Telegraph to WJEC's relationship with the publishers, Hodder. We have no financial relationship with Hodder, nor with any other publisher. Further to the questions raised by the Daily Telegraph Hodder have rescinded their initial statement and confirm that there is no 'exclusivity agreement' between WJEC and Hodder. We co-operate with a number of different publishers by advising on the content of texts which they produce in support of WJEC qualifications, for the benefit of students and teachers, however this advice is provided free of charge by WJEC and we receive no financial reward.

As a charity, WJEC has no interest in making profits; our financial aims relate to the need to invest in our products and services for the public benefit. The training courses we organise to provide feedback on exams cost 120 per day and not the 200 or more suggested in recent press reports. We aim to minimise the costs to centres and often subsidise the events to ensure that centres throughout the UK are not disadvantaged in any way. When introducing new specifications, we offer free courses to all centres and teachers: the need for guidance through face-to-face events is clearly greater when there has been considerable change compared with a previous specification. We also produce a growing number of high quality educational resources to support our qualifications, and most of these are freely available online to teachers and students.

WJEC's mission is "to provide high quality public qualifications, resources and services to assist schools and colleges in enabling individuals to fulfil their potential". We are confident in our ability to fulfil this mission, and we find that increasing numbers of teachers in England and Wales use our specifications because they are products of high quality that are accompanied by excellent support.



For more information please contact:

Ceri Thomas, Marketing & Communications Manager
E-mail: ceri.thomas@wjec.co.uk
Telephone: 029 2026 5309

Edited by Roy Huggins, 16 December 2011 - 12:43 AM.

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

#131 Karen Miller

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 01:43 PM

Reading the June 2011 report I'm assuming that the Home Front was the topic for paper 2. Haven't been able to get to a meeting and I'm assuming again that the statement they made about not having the same topic twice in a row applies so the Jan exam will be aither the Liberal reforms or the Suffragettes. With the comments about WJEC etc I was just a bit concerned.

Does anyone have a copy of the paper 2 1890-1918 from June that they could post here as none of ours sat it. I believe there were some different questions.
Thanks
Karen
Such is life!

#132 Roy Huggins

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 09:46 PM

Hi Karen,

I thought today's exam was very fair. Its nice to seem them changing the pattern. By all rights it should have been the Liberal Reforms today but they threw in the Suffragettes. The same was also true of the International Relations Paper, but the League of Nations came up again in Question 1.

Kind Regards

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

#133 Karen Miller

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 12:29 PM

Hi Karen,

I thought today's exam was very fair. Its nice to seem them changing the pattern. By all rights it should have been the Liberal Reforms today but they threw in the Suffragettes. The same was also true of the International Relations Paper, but the League of Nations came up again in Question 1.

Kind Regards

Roy :jester:


Hi Roy - I had a feeling they might skip the Liberals just to confuse us and do Votes for women which was OK for mine as it is their favourite and they wrote a lot so I hope some of it hit the marks. Interesting that the League was up again. I don't suppose they could put it on 3 times in a row!
Such is life!




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