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How good/bad are OCR nationals in Science?

Discussion in 'Science' started by ironic lettuce, Oct 19, 2008.

  1. Hi everyone
    I was just wondering what your opinions are of the OCR national course for science, in terms of how valuable it is. The reason I ask is because I'm teaching it to some of my pupils, and I've heard so much negativity about it, some of which I certainly agree with, but can also see where it would be useful, and would love to hear your opinions on it.
    Apparently, the qualification isn't recognised by a number of colleges and universities, is that true? I can't find anything on the internet to support or discredit that statement at all, so I'm a bit lost! What I don't like about it is that, because there's no exam, it's difficult to assess just how much learning has taken place. I know that there is very little in it that would be deemed proper science (drawing posters etc.) but then isn't that the point of it? To give kids who aren't good at science at least some knowledge of it?
    Like I said, I'd love to hear your opinions on this!! :)



     
  2. Hi everyone
    I was just wondering what your opinions are of the OCR national course for science, in terms of how valuable it is. The reason I ask is because I'm teaching it to some of my pupils, and I've heard so much negativity about it, some of which I certainly agree with, but can also see where it would be useful, and would love to hear your opinions on it.
    Apparently, the qualification isn't recognised by a number of colleges and universities, is that true? I can't find anything on the internet to support or discredit that statement at all, so I'm a bit lost! What I don't like about it is that, because there's no exam, it's difficult to assess just how much learning has taken place. I know that there is very little in it that would be deemed proper science (drawing posters etc.) but then isn't that the point of it? To give kids who aren't good at science at least some knowledge of it?
    Like I said, I'd love to hear your opinions on this!! :)



     
  3. Hi I came acroos OCR last year and am currently "teaching" it.I,m pretty much sure that it is not recognised by colleges and universities. I can understand why, there is no real Science content apart form the odd few bits, which does a disservice to the pupils themselves.Of course it looks good on results day and for league table % of A-C passes etc.Personally not convinced by it. Not that standards lowered or "dumbingdown" or anything. Perish the thought![​IMG]
    currymummy x
     
  4. This is my second year of teaching it and I'm still far from convinced!!

    Firstly, it's not very flexible. The assessment objectives are very limited in scope. I suppose you can teach them other things... but it won't count. There's also very little practical. We teach it to the lower sets, and I can go for a month or so without doing practical work - not great!

    I'm teaching Unit 11 at the moment, which is appallingly bad. They've tried to cram all the stuff from the National Curriculum into one module, hence why AO1 includes space and cycles on Earth (er, not really related), AO2 looks at the EM spectrum, AO3 is a few KS3 weathering practicals, and AO4 makes the natural leap to homeostasis, followed by AO5 which is about natural selection!!

    I've got one set of kids who work hard at it, but I still have no idea if they've actually learned anything. They do the work, and then forget about it. The ones who do best aren't the best scientists - they're the best at English. There can be a lot of written work, so the kids with good understanding - but not so good with their English skills - tend to do less well.


    I can understand why colleges don't accept it. There's no demonstration of learning (I think you could just copy information from books/internet and still get a Pass), and what they do learn is certainly not enough to attempt an A-Level. How it counts for 2 GCSEs at C (or better) is beyond me. There'd be no comparison between someone who gets a C at Core and Additional and someone who gets a Pass in an OCR National. I was reading somewhere there a group had done some research into these GNVQ-a-like courses, and they were actually the equivalent of one 'E' at GCSE. Our school does it purely to get the pass rate up - it's not about giving the kids a better Science education. Makes me a little sick.

    I can see the potential in the course - but, for me, there would have to be some exam content (say 40%), more of an emphasis on practical work, more flexibility, and definitely a restructuring of the course (particularly Unit 11).

     
  5. Thanks for the replies guys! To be honest, I abhor the OCR nationals, but wanted to hold back from saying that, because I don't know the whole thing inside out and didn't know if I was missing something! You've both hit the nail on the head with exactly why I hate it - it has almost nothing to do with giving the pupils a better science education, it's mainly about league tables and pass rates which is, as you say, sickening. I'm at my current school on a one year contract and even though I really enjoy it here I won't be sticking around once my year is up, just because I have to do so much OCR and I agree, it does the children a complete disservice. Rather than set them up for life, I think it actually detracts because they:
    1. Get a qualification that is almost worthless.
    2. Learn very little actual scientific skills.
    3. Can still get a pass even if they copy out every single piece of work!!!!!!!
    I was hoping that there was more to OCR than upping the pass rate of a school, but it doesn't seem to be much more than that sadly :( The worst part is, there are pupils who are going to get the same pass mark as others in the class, even though they've done almost no work, just by copying other people!! It's a joke! :(

     
  6. The OCR nationals (or the colouring in qualification) are rubbish!

    All the kids have to do is copy or colour in various bits for each AO and then they know they will pass. I am teaching unit 2 which should be the most scientific (atomic structure) but the kids know that once they have produced the evidence they can forget it. So they dont both to learn ionic bonding etc because they know once they have produced the evidence (a nice atomic structure booklet) they can forget it, which they do!

    Grrrrrr Rant over!


     
  7. Hi

    May I ask what class sizes you'e got for this? We're just starting it with classes of 30 and wondered if you had any opinions/advice.

    Many Thanks
     
  8. Firstly, class of 30? Good luck with the marking.. . . .

    What you've got to remember here, is that this course has some fantastic benefits, but the school must use it accordingly.
    <u>Content</u>
    I think, its woeful. Unit 1 is THE most boring thing i teach. Health and safety and all that ****. But do you know, at the end of year 11 when i talk honestly about what we've done and what they've learnt, the pupils actually liked it. Ill tell them i hate it and its boring, but they say the opposite. Mostly i think, because for the first time in 4 years, science was accessible to them. They get it. And you can challenge them, by setting them work to do for a merit etc.
    <u>Learning</u>

    You'll be surprised how much they learn, or remember. Its only a small example, but i know almost everyone to whom ive taught this course, could perform a semi reasonable risk assessment, and actually manage risk. They could also perform a pretty fair test on an area of water! The course has no exams coz these kids struggle with them. This technique of assessment shows that they can do the work at the time. Thus, when taught, they can perform.

    <u>The future</u>
    You must make sure no pupils want to do A-level individual science. The course is then fantastic for the pupils. They come to lesson knowing they will probably be able to complete whatever tak you set them. They can constantly monitor how they are doing if you give them a checksheet of the work for each unit. Many pupils learn how to organize themselves in terms of work by doing this course.

    I must also add, that i had a pupil who achieved a merit, and has now gone on to do A-level Applied science at out local reputable college. So there are opportunites further down the line. Im pretty sure we negotiated this with the college.
     
  9. Also, in response to other posts, the teacher has a large impact on this course. Some teachers will allow pupils simply to copy and paste or use textbooks. It is possible to actually teach them stuff, then get them to produce work afterwards for their folders.
     
  10. Here, here! Its true, a lot of the work that the teacher puts in will determine how much the kids learn. Vocational quals. can be taught like normal KS4 but most teacher see them as different and go down the copy and paste route.
    x
     
  11. My school put the pupils who got D and below in core science into OCR National classes (or 'cut/paste/copy').Double passes all round and the 5A*-C numbers have soared.
     
  12. Shame on Science Teachers for not teaching the SCIENCE in OCR SCIENCE nationals,
    there is lots there, and lots of practicals to show it.
    It motivates students as they take ownership of their learning it engages, making paper, soap , yoghurt, forensics!! water pollution..... and enpowers.
    Difficult students struggling to stay in school have been transformed into group leaders showing the way!
    Students with no chance of passing traditional GCSE get a Level 2 qualification accepted at most colleges, some non-academic students become more academic by the end of the course and go to college with some self-esteem.




     
  13. sadscientist

    sadscientist Occasional commenter

    I don't think "shame on ...." is a particularly helpful start to a post on this forum.

    I have no experience personally but I can see the value of the qualification as you describe it - it would be very suitable for some of my pupils. Why do you think teachers are negative about it?

    Would colleges really accept it as sufficient to progress to A level? If not we're limiting options at the start of Year 10.
     
  14. Many schools don't teach it properly and use it as a passport to getting kids GCSE equivalents. That makes schools very cynical about its' value.
    We don't accept it for progression to A-levels in chemistry, physics, biology, human biology but may accept it as suitable for AS/A2 applied science of L3 BTEC.
     
  15. nemo.

    nemo. New commenter

    It makes me sad to see the old British disease to rubbish all vocational quals here :(
    Clearly OCR Nationals are designed for students who won't be going on to do science A-levels and science/medical degrees! That is for the more academic children who are good at exams and like science. That is say 10% of the population say?
    As an ex business person (now teacher) I can see the benefit of OCR nationals - ability to organise, plan, meet deadlines, write reports etc etc. Ok teachers can cheat and allow copying but that is just poor teaching! But a certain amount of reusing information is a key business skill. When I first wrote a business report I copied someone elses and rewrote it to learn the style etc of that report. That's a real life skill valued by employers!
    Maybe those that compalin the loudest are those from "good backgrounds" that went from uni to PGCE and never had to work a real day's work in their lives :)--

     
  16. If OCR were delivered in the spirit it were intended and all the student learnt those valuable skills then I doubt there would be the sceptics around that there are. When filling in the blanks and colouring the relevent part of a worksheet for a year or so gets you the equivalent of a C and a qualification is impossible to fail (unless you don't attend) then it tends to devalue the qualification itself. I often complain loudly about this kind of thing but try not to prejudge those comment, I don't come from a 'good background' and I have not always been a teacher. I am a believer in vocational education for those kids who have other valuable skills, the quality of delivery of vocational education is the debate I fear and the 'all must have prizes' mentality.
     
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    I agree with nemo, OCR Nationals is a modern qualification suited to
    the century we live in. The majority of students are not going to study science
    at A level, let alone university. However teaching the students skills that can
    be applied across a multitude of sectors, benefits them and society.


    The Nationals let students demonstrate practical ability and research and presentation
    skills. So what if the students cannot design a experiment to see if woodlice
    prefer to turn left or right, but they can follow a protocol, work safely and
    present their findings.


    Granted they are not for everyone, but who wants one size fits all.


     


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    I agree with nemo, OCR Nationals is a modern qualification suited to
    the century we live in. The majority of students are not going to study science
    at A level, let alone university. However teaching the students skills that can
    be applied across a multitude of sectors, benefits them and society.


    The Nationals let students demonstrate practical ability and research and presentation
    skills. So what if the students cannot design a experiment to see if woodlice
    prefer to turn left or right, but they can follow a protocol, work safely and
    present their findings.


    Granted they are not for everyone, but who wants one size fits all.
     
  19. well came across this as i am marking nationals work - 2 hours in and not even half way through: i hate nationals!!!!
    1) time for marking - hours and hours and hours
    2) Pupils are unable to do the work and most is colouring in/cut and paste/copying
    3) FE establishments dont recognise it so basically we are putting pupils at a disadvantage
    4) pupils are learning nothing - and in response to they are learning independent learning and organising - most cant manage to put these folders together - more work for us!
    5) no scheme of work and the moderator 'appears' to change his mind about what is a 'pass'
    6) when pupils are absent they miss a piece of coursework or more each lesson - who is expected to give up their time to catch them up - oh yes thats us again

    teaching this a few years...i have lots of qualifications in the nationals (as ive done most of the work) - pupils have nothing apart from the inability to think and learn for themselves.

    i am actually looking for a school that doesn't teach nationals!

    7) staff hate it and are unhappy!
     

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