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Moving from OCR to Edexcel GCSE...a good idea?

Discussion in 'Music' started by asdmumandteacher, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. What are people's experiences? Initially moved from AQA to OCR because I thought our pupils would enjoy the 'easy' marks offered in the terminal (now creative) task.They hate it :(..they find improvising really difficult despite endless practice and discussions about how to structure their creative tasks and use of devices etc etc.... I like the teacher friendly aspect of Edexcel course too, no more bitty sections...5% on this and that (commentaries and logs etc)...A little worried about the 40% on listening but then at least it will be music they know (and can learn - which actually the pupils like doing here).

    I know the thought of Set Works is a little boring but I quite fancy a little predictability with all the randomness of the listening paper in OCR where they have to apply what they know to unheard pieces (they find that so difficult).

    What are people's thought?

    Thanks :)
     
  2. What are people's experiences? Initially moved from AQA to OCR because I thought our pupils would enjoy the 'easy' marks offered in the terminal (now creative) task.They hate it :(..they find improvising really difficult despite endless practice and discussions about how to structure their creative tasks and use of devices etc etc.... I like the teacher friendly aspect of Edexcel course too, no more bitty sections...5% on this and that (commentaries and logs etc)...A little worried about the 40% on listening but then at least it will be music they know (and can learn - which actually the pupils like doing here).

    I know the thought of Set Works is a little boring but I quite fancy a little predictability with all the randomness of the listening paper in OCR where they have to apply what they know to unheard pieces (they find that so difficult).

    What are people's thought?

    Thanks :)
     
  3. spanboy

    spanboy Occasional commenter

    I was apprehensive when edexcel brought in the set works but now feel it's working really well (as long as you don't go into TOO much detail for each work). As you say a bit of predictability is nice, if not as challenging as preparing for any piece coming up on the paper.
    Both the pupils and I like the clarity of the marking system - there are very clear guidelines with good criteria for what mark to award for each piece of coursework; I know what mark to give and the pupils know how to achieve those marks.
    I've never taught OCR but from comments I've read from posters on the forum their marking seems more arbitary than Edexcel (?). I have taught AQA (a few years ago) and definitely prefer Edexcel.
     
  4. Interestingly our county inspector did some research about exam boards and types of school in our county. Essentially the schools with the highest A*-C pass rate tend to go for Edexcel and the ones with the lowest go for OCR. I think it probably depends on your cohort and your school. I know mine wouldn't cope with the 40% listening as mine tend to be low on the academic ability and struggle with exams full stop in all subjects so the 75% practical in OCR suits them well. (Our whole school is skewed towards the lower ability end because of our intake.) However I think that if I taught in a different type of school I would probably tend towards Edexcel because of the reasons you've given.
    I don't think there were many comments about OCR's marking except with the Creative task where I remember a discussion. However I do prefer the customer service from OCR - having taught Edexcel A-level in the past, Edexcel drove me mad with their customer service and never being able to speak to someone who knew what they were on about!
     
  5. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    I've seen that said before, but (a) there's very little difference between a paper weighted at 30% and one weighted at 40% (you need something like 20% v. 80% to make a real difference) and (b) the Edexcel listening paper is so very much easier than those of the other boards that I would use it every time for weaker candidates.
    For heaven's sake, even the dictation comes from short movements that have been intensively studied for two years!
    I would strongly recommend Edexcel for weaker candidates - not just because of the dictation, but becausec set works means that you pretty much know what will come up in the exam - there's no exposure to the lottery called "areas of study". It's also very comforting (and a huge cost saving) to have all the material printed and recorded together in an anthology - none of that comparing notes at INSET and thinking "gosh, should I have covered that, if she has?".
    I used to recommend OCR for very bright candidates (it is, after all, the board preferred by private schools) but I found their marking to be too erratic for reliability, so changed to Edexcel some 12 years ago.
     
  6. I changed from aqa to edexcel when the syllabus changes came in, I've never looked back. Apart from agreeing with all the other posts I can add that I really like the choice of pieces. You've got The Messiah - everyone should know what that is! They walk around school humming mozart 40 and get to about sonata form, something I never used to have to teach. Chop in is on the menu, yum! I even like the jchallenge of the shoenberg and the clever way that a musical is slipped into 20th century music. The world music has some good choices as does the popular - Buckle always goes down well.

    I also like the way the pieces tie together with certain features such as mixolydian mode appearing more than once.

    In short there is challange and there is quality. I teach in an accademic school and my students are expected to get As and leaving 40% to an exam is risky, however the reassurance of knowing exactly what they will be studying and when helps them. We will finish the listening by this half term then its revision all the way.

    I now have a student work sheet for each topic with notes they have to complete in lessons. I've just revised them all and they will be up on the resources page any day!
     
  7. Thank you all for your comments. We turned to the OCR board as we had a suspicion that it was slightly more 'comprehensive' friendly than the other two boards (used to teach MEG syllabus and husband taught OCR when first started) and I still believe this to be the case - that it is prob more suited to non readers and those with good hearing skills.
    Despite being in a selective school a large minority of my pupils who take GCSE are not fluent readers and are singers/guitarists (self taught) so have feared the set work thing with Edexcel...but I am fed up with the bittyness of the OCR syllabus and also the randomness of the questions and the sheer amount of listening they have to cover for what amounts to 25% of the whole exam. One of the other main reasons we chose OCR was because of the 25% exam...they (like most pupils I suspect) are generally weaker on the listening than any other element of the course (I hope that is just due to the application skills needed...time will tell if we swop to Edexcel) and we had hoped to minimise any dropping in grades by having a smaller percentage on the listening exam.40% compared to 25% is a hell of a jump Florian!
    Would be really grateful if anyone else could let me know their experiences. From what I have read so far it looks like Edexcel might be the way forward for us..just a bit of a leap of faith eh!

     
  8. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    Grading has a much greater impact on the total mark than the weighting of individual papers. Tell your students that they each got only 31% for listening and they will be miserable. Tell them that the boundary for a Grade A in listening is 30%, and they'll wish that listening contributed more than a miserely 25% to the total mark. Remember, it is the grades that are aggregated when calculating the overall pass mark, not the percentages in each paper.
     
  9. Are you sure?
    I always thought it was the total mark as per the "Cash in" values in the Music Spec, Page 69. It gives a total mark for each overall grade boundary A* being 270 out of 300.
    How do you understand this process?
     
  10. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    That's after the marks for each unit have been converted to UMS marks. The conversion to UMS is intended to preserve the "grade" achieved in an individual unit. But the actual conversion also depends on the total mark available for the unit, its weighting in the subject as a whole, and the spread of marks used in the grading of the unit.
    For example, imagine a subject that had just two equally weighted units. If Unit 1 was marked out of 50, with a grade A at 45, and Unit 2 out of 50 with a grade A at 20, it would be grossly unfair to simply aggregated the marks, because the total mark would always be 'swung' by Unit 1.
    What happens in practice is that, if units are equally weighted, a top grade B mark for listening (which might only be 35%) translates to the same UMS mark for a top grade B in performing (which might be as much as 80%).

     
  11. Any more opinions on this? My school want to re-introduce GCSE music. I think their idea is that most kids will do BTEC (which is what we've been running) whilst the highest achievers will be selected to do GCSE.
    So far I'm leaning towards the Edexcel board but I keep changing my mind.
     
  12. Well, I like it because it has the advantage that they will only hear music in the exam that they have already studied. If your students are good revisors of information and you give ethem good notes and plenty of lesson time on the pieces it is quite easy to do quite well in the exam, which counts as 40%. I personally like the chosen pieces as well.

    I have never regreted changing.
     

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