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Edexcel GCSE - considering the move from OCR - advice needed please!

Discussion in 'Religious Education' started by san38, Jun 5, 2011.

  1. san38

    san38 New commenter

    Due to concerns with the new OCR spec I am considering a move to Edexcel - I need to have a plan in place for when, as I suspect will happen, my results go down significantly in August. I am unhappy with the new form of questions from OCR, which combined with the confusing structure of the question paper has made it an inappropriate course for my 300 students.
    I would be grateful to hear if anyone else has made the transition from OCR B to 'Religion and Life' Edexcel and if so, how easy you found this to do. I would also love to hear from anyone who entered for the new EDexcel Spec last year/January as to whether results were broadly in line with your expectations? This is my main concern - OCR has become massively more challenging and whilst they are offering a rationale for this (better prepares students for Alevel) this will not hold any water at my school who are very results focused and entering a cohort over half of whom will never be capable of an A level. I guess what I want to know is whether Edexcel is accessible to all abilities and whether you have been generally happy with results, support etc..
    Would be most grateful for any comments. Thanks.
  2. Hiya
    I haven't switched but I can give my thoughts on religion & life if it helps.
    As with most exams it is all about technique. Having marked for Edexcel last year it was really clear that bright students failed to do as well as they could have because they 'knew' everything they needed to know but didn't know how it needed to be presented. Having taught it for a year I now have the techniques up my sleeve and have created resources to support the students in achieving as many marks as possible.
    The majority of the marks on the paper come from reasoning. As I teach critical thinking this is a really important technique that students must be able to master to achieve high marks. The problem on this paper lies in the defintion of 'developed' ( particularly in B questions). Again I think I have come up with appropriate techniques to achieve this.
    Overall, I would say ( as with all exam subjects I teach) you have to spend half the time teaching the content and half the time teaching the technique. If they practice this over 2 years then they should do well. Fingers crossed this year will be our best year ever [​IMG]

  3. san38

    san38 New commenter

    Thanks for that Egyptiangirl and good luck with your results! I've got a feeling that mine might be going the other way this year - not what I need when we're already under threat from Ebac!
    Thanks again - will keep your points in mind.
  4. I've always used Edexcel and entered whole cohort regardless of ability in and had good results, not that it is a push over a paper mind you. I pretty much echo what E-G has said about technique.
    Some of my brighter ones slightly under achieved (not massively I am talking A instead of A*) but then again many of my middle abilities massively over ahcieved - the ones who listen and act on it rather than thinkng they know more than the teacher does sometimes!
    Am interested in your comments EG on the B question - what technique have you devised? I am currenty insisting on 2 flipping decent paragraphs for my higher end ones! Interestingly the lower abilities seem to have less of an issue than the top sets. I remember on the training that Bob said that a D grade student should get full marks on B questions with minimal effort - well hahahha to that!

    Back to the question though - I do like teaching this paper and do get great results. I have topped up to full coure on new spec for the first time this year with Religion & Society which I am much less confident with so will be interesting to see how that one goes.
  5. san38

    san38 New commenter

    Thanks Leviosa - topping up to full course is something I would also be interested in so I will have a look at this option too.
  6. Hi
    I am also considering switching from OCR due to really poor results last year, this year we only entered top two sets, my head has suggested we just enter top sets again next year and consider some sort of joint RE/Citizenship GCSE for the rest whose targets are D and below.. My problem has been trying to find a joint GCSE, the only thing I've managed to come up with is AQA RE which has a citizenship unit included. My concern is that head wants it up and running for Sept and I'm still undecided which to go for. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
    PS I am also really interested in your techniques egyptian girl and would be grateful if you would consider sharing them.

  7. I think you have to find a spec that suits your kids. I do WJEC, and I mark for them, so like EG says you get an idea of what is expected.

    The way my kids write naturally suits WJEC, they didn't get on so well with edexcel.
  8. fm1981

    fm1981 New commenter

    JOIN AQA!!!! It really is the best! i've done three specs so far (OCR, EdExcel and now AQA). I have found AQA to be the most lenient, easiest to deliver and easiest to grasp spec of them all.
    PLUS the Spec which we are doing (Religious Expression through Society) is by far the most exciting, engaging and fun spec for the kids to learn - especially those who are the most disaffected! GO FOR IT!
  9. I would move to Edexcel.
    a type questions are definitions (worth 2 marks) and give the students a good basis for essay questions.
    b questions (worth 4 marks) students to give two developed reasons supporting personal view.
    c questions (8) three developed reasons explaining importance of festival, theological idea or practice.
    d. Discuss (although format changed from 2009) 6 marks. Similar to b type but students need to give reasons for both sides.
    Our grades: Full Course 2009: 100% 2010: 91%
    Short Course 2009: 68% 2010: 77%
    Section 3 and 4 questions have more of a "citizenship" feel to them and my students have complained about this, especially my full course students.
    Hope this helps.

  10. Also, Edexcel have a very accessible certificate course so all can achieve!!!
  11. san38

    san38 New commenter

    I was the OP here (sorry!) and have spent a while now looking into all of the boards. For me the one with the greatest crossover and that looks most accesible was AQA so that's where I'm going. Liked WJEC but not enough common content, Edexcel short course good but really didn't like the look of the topics in the full course. AQA lots of scope to choose the units that suit what you've been doing already. Also, really like the fact that you can teach more than one religion but that you don't have to teach it for every topic if that makes sense - allow you to dip in and out where it will be appropriate and interesting to consider an alternate view. So - choice made! Quite exciting - will not be missing OCR.

  12. Hi Sans
    We currently have our year 10 shortcourse and full course entered for AQA B Citizenship this summer, and our year 11 full course entered for OCR finishing the course they started last year.
    Next year our current year 10 full course (new year 11) will complete with AQA B religion and life issues.
    My colleague is marking OCR B603 (the one that caused us problems in January) this summer, so depending on what he says after the meeting and the results for the year 11/10 full course groups (which should be broadly comparable) we will decide in August whether to switch the new year 10 to AQA or stick with OCR.
    We have planned to teach AQA religion and life issues to year 10 if we do switch (for various reasons we no longer have to deliver the citizenship unit - yeah). To keep our options open we will switch to doing ethics in year 10 if we stay with OCR. We used to do Phil in year 10 and ethics in year 11. This means we can still plan most of our units, and only adjust the 'exam style' bits of the first units if we change. If we do go AQA then we will then teach Rels Phil and Ultimate questions in year 11, which we think might be good prep for A Level.
  13. san38

    san38 New commenter

    Hi Baileys
    Yes, much the same situation. Have 90% decided to start y10 with AQA R&Life next year. Will only swop the current y10 soon to be y11 if results this year are dreadful. My colleague marked b601 and the news was not good! Is also doing b603 so we will see what is said about that. Good luck! will keep you posted.
  14. Hi - I fully encourage you to move to Edexcel and agree about the importance of technique - invest in this every lesson and they will all do well!
    Also agree there can be a frustrating level of citizenship in the final exam but it seems to be balanced with a choice of a more RE specific question too, so I hope the students pick what is right for them!
    Hope it all works out for you!
    A x
  15. Hi - I am curious about the certificate - can you give me an insight into how it works, and the students you enter? Found the website confusing (but then my mind is a little weary!!!) THANK YOU!
  16. What did your colleague say about the meeting yesterday. Mine was not impressed. He said that the 12 mark questions seemed to expect an awful lot (but he has only taught the AQA spec to be fair).
    He was even more critical of the different attitudes to different answers however. On the 1 mark question about marriage they were not to be credited for putting 'rings' only if they put 'giving the rings' as 'we can't read information into answers'. But on a longer W&P answer which he thought was quite generic they gave it a high mark 'because we assume they are referring to the parable of the sheep and the goats' - which he said none of the assistant examiners on his table felt it did. He felt this was very inconsistent.
    We will still wait for the results, but like you we are 90% sure we are going to stick with AQA. Having seen some pupils who had lost lots of marks through mucking up the E question my colleague made a good point about the different structures. He said that in OCR if the misunderstand the E part 1/2 their marks are gone. At least with AQA no one question accounts for that much so one bad answer cannot make a good paper into a poor paper.
  17. Angek - not sure what board you are using at the moment but we will probably stick with OCR for the entry level, as the topic overlap with AQA is similar enough and the amount of work required small enough not too worry at that very bottom level.
  18. san38

    san38 New commenter

    Hi baileys
    My colleague seemed to feel that the marking for B603 was much more lenient than for B601 (a shame ours are entering both!). Seemed to be much more generic answers would be acceptable and she seemed to think the 12 mark questions on the ethics were less difficult to reach than on the Phil. I think this is part of the problem (an OCR A Level examiner said this to me) - there is now no chief examiner but 4 different examiners for the 4 different papers and there-by no consistency with marking. I agree with your point about the AQA marks. Will no doubt be 'talking' to you in August!
  19. That's even more worrying then - some of mine are resitting B601 as they didn't do as well as they could in year 10.
    I think a chat in August when I can give a direct comparison of OCR and AQA results with my full course groups will be very fruitful.

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