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OCR Nationals is toast?

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by freddd, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. bbc.co.uk/news/education-15475697

    Can't see too many entries aften Sept 2012. By 2014, they will only count as 1 GCSE, and that's if they are lucky.
  2. Good riddance. They've done a lot of damage to ICT education and dashed any hope of this fragile subject having any kind of sound reputation.
    I'm sure that those HoDs who promoted the Nationals will still be hanging onto their ego; thinking they still have a place (and that the engaging Flash animations done in unit 94 really serves the educational needs and life chances of our youngsters).
  3. Agreed. Heads of Department who introduced or kept OCR Nationals going really do need to take a long hard look at themselves, their egos and their judgements in the mirror. They have let so many pupils down and made significant dents into the credibility of the subject. If I were a Head in a school, I would be asking whether my I-love-Nationals-Head-of-ICT really knows what they are doing?
  4. Khashoggi

    Khashoggi New commenter

    Letting students down?

    Mmmm. Let me see.

    Before the Nationals, we had only one group of students at A Level of about 10 to 15 at AS with around half that carrying on to A2. Maybe one or two of those would go onto Uni to do an ICT/Computing degree. Value Added was questionable.

    Since the Nationals we, have two groups at both AS and A2 with about 45 in Y12 and 30 in Y13. Out of the ones who drop at the end of Y12, most are those who leave the school so retention to A2 is one of the best in the school. Only two students have failed AS in the last 3 years. Our ALPS ratings are consistently up in the ones and twos (making us one of the best performing subjects in the school) and the numbers going onto Uni to study IT/computing continue to rise.

    As for the league tables, it has had no effect on our results. All our students do 2 GCSE's worth of Nationals, but it has not had any effect on our 5A*-C rate (apart from one year where it affected one student).

    I agree that some schools have been playing the system, but to tar us all with the same brush is rather unfair.
  5. I'm glad you feel you are a success. However, you are clearly the exception not the rule. Read the Wolfe Report, and every other report that has come about in the last few years.
  6. scruffycat

    scruffycat New commenter

    So a GCSE in ICT is worth getting and better for students than the ocr nationals... having taught both over a number of years it is harder for my students to get an A grade in the nationals than the GCSE. I can teach them to the test for GCSE which is exactly what they are. With the nationals I can extend them beyond the criteria to ensure the distinction is high quality for sound.. which they then use in the school radio station... website which they then use in creating websites... video which they then use in a range of subject areas.. skills for busines sthta give them functional skills they will have for the rest of their lives.

    Not everyone chases results and If I did it would be a GCSE qualification. I used to get 100% A/B 30% A* on OCR A and the kids had sod all ict skills.
  7. Captain Obvious

    Captain Obvious New commenter

    The qualification in itself has many good qualities - there are plenty of engaging, technical or creative units. There are some blatant hoop-jumping tasks (I despise AO4 of unit 3 and AO3 of unit 4), but it does attempt to cover the design process in quite a sensible manner.
    The problem stems from staff being able to be completely mercenary with it and hand-holding too much. The intentions were probably honest, but it's become devalued probably because it's become to easy to get on to (i.e. it's for "some" kids, not "most") and too easy to subvert.
    Nationals needs to change, but I do like the intent of the qualification, particularly compared to the dry husk of GCSE ICT (which is full of irrelevant topics for your average student).
  8. tjra

    tjra Occasional commenter

    Yes because writing a list of Input/Output Devices and their drawbacks and benefits was much more in line with ICT in the 21st century and was useful for youngsters to learn.

    The Nationals were far from perfect but they were engaging and interesting (with the exception of most of Unit 1) for a lot of students.

    Your posts smack a little of bitterness and a teary-eyed nostalgic view of the "good old days". We're in ICT. It's constantly changing and education is doing its best to keep up with it. The Nationals were an attempt to keep up with it - while they weren't wholly successful, they were a lot better than the alternatives at the time.
  9. Khashoggi

    Khashoggi New commenter

    I have read the Wolf Report and the issues with vocational education as a whole (not just the Nationals). I have also read the appendices, which include a breakdown of the top 30 vocational qualifications taken in 2010. At the top of the lst is the National First award (which was taken by about 15% of the cohort). This is only worth 1GCSE, so can not really be held responsible for the issues with the whole of vocational education.

    The next National on the list is the First Certificate which is 13th on the list and was taken by about 2% of the year group. This is worth 3 GCSE's and so could be argued is a qualification that comes under the issues highlighted by Prof Wolfe, but it is only 2%. Some of that 2% will be able students doing extra units off their own back on top of their other GCSE's not instead of them. The 4 GCSE national doesn't even make it into the top 30 most popular qualifications.

    There are issues with some schools forcing students down vocational paths for the sake of their own outcomes, but the vast majority (over 95% of OCR national entries going by the stats) are not doing that. But that doesn't seem to stop both the media and certain people on here making sweeping generalisations.
  10. So what? I don't understand your point. The Nationals is picked on (rightly) because it is too easy to get a pass, too easy to spoonfeed pupils to get Merits and worth too many qualifications for the amount of skills and knowledge pupils get.Any qualification which can be done by teachers so that it looks like the pupils are doing the work, where the exam boards cannot guarantee that the work is the pupils' work, is pointless.
    But the Nationals is just one of a whole raft of so called vocational 'qualifications', which are anything but vocational. They are part of a the problem of dumbing down and degrading a subject. So when someone says 'Nationals', just read 'Nationals and other types of worthless qualifications', if it will help you better get to grips with what the problem is. ICT at GCSE level is just as bad by the way, but for different reasons.
    It's time to kick all of ICT into touch in its present form. And TES - please give Comoputing its own forum. Lots of organisations are waking up to how different ICT and Computing is, except the TES.
  11. Khashoggi

    Khashoggi New commenter

    It maybe relatively easy to get a pass, but that is the fault of QCA for passing it in the first place. I don't choose the National because of that, I choose it because I have to offer a qualification to the whole cohort and the GCSE ICT just didn't motivate, engage or enthuse the majority of students who would not have chosen it as an option, but were being made to take it. The majority of them will use what they have learnt from the National in their chosen careers - more than the number which will use the theory aspects of the GCSE course. The skills are more important to the majority than the theory.

    I agree that it should not be worth so many GCSE's - if you look back in the archive I was saying it should be capped at a maximum of 1 GCSE a few years ago.

    The National is the best fit qualification for my school at this moment in time and so that is why I run it. If it was not compulsory and an option then I would offer Computing, but it isn't so I don't (and actually can't at this moment in time even if I wanted to).
  12. Some very myopic views here. The problem is League Tables. While they remain the only game in town, schools will play to the rules. As long as OCR Nationals qualifies as GCSE equivalents on the DFES scoring system, they will feature in school's accounability strategies. And any individual ICT teacher who doesn't "get" that is not living in the real world
    Vocational courses should be complementary to a traditional academic curriculum. Education should embrace diversity. But it doesn't look like that is the plan from now on. Michael Gove looks dreamily back to when he was in school - a cozy grammar devoid of yoiks - who were all at the local secondary modern - and that's his vision for our 21st century education system. So all schools will have to shoe-horn everyone into GCSEs if that's what league tables require - and hey presto - we're back to where we were ten years ago - half the students on courses that weren't appropriate for them. If anyone feels the vocational courses aren't up to scratch - and I would agree many aren't - then get involved with redesigning them. But they should have a place in the curriculum even if they don't count for league tables.
    We now have three diverse communities: what our kids consider ICT to be all about (social networking, Ebay, Youtube, plagiarising from Google) - what ICT teachers think ICT should be about (ICT skills aka Microsoft Office) plus whatever else they are interested in teaching ) - and the exam boards (who live in a dysfunctional parallel universe anyway). It's not exactly a good mix which does not augur well for ICT. So although computing has to be a good way to go - it's only suitable currently for a select group of students who need quite high level skills, and even logical minds. The future for ICT teachers is uncertain and bleak. Unless you can program.

  13. tjra

    tjra Occasional commenter

    Great post JohnRSS. Well said. Especially the part about what ICT is to students and what it is to adults/teachers (or rather what we think it should be about).
  14. It is clear from reading many of the posts on this forum that there are still plenty of die-hard advocates of OCR Nationals. "well intentioned", "my kids did really well", "not perfect but better than..." just hang in there some more.... keep fooling yourselves. You OCR National people are like the King Canute's of the ICT world. The tide has turned, but you just can't accept that the poxy qualification is no good and has done a huge amount of damage to the subject.
    ICT teachers need to kill off these ridiculous courses and notions, then we can move on, and decide what to do for the best before the subject is scrapped next year (Spring 2011 NC review).
    Offer Computing FAST! The rest is a waiting game... just see what is going to happen....

  15. catch222

    catch222 New commenter

    If I can ask a silly qn, is there still an expectation that students have to complete a KS4 ICT course any more? I'd love to offer a "proper course" but still have to offer a course to all KS4 students...
    Please give me some good news!
  16. At the moment yes. ICT learning is compulsory for KS4.
    But wait until the curriculum review is out next year. Reading between the lines, it looks probable that ICT will be scrapped as a compulsory subject, but it mentions a campaign for computer science to be back as a requirement at KS4. (Good luck in getting Mr Gove to rubber stamp that one).
    I wouldn't do anything until we all know what is happening with the National Curriculum. Just a waiting game at the moment.
  17. J_H

    J_H New commenter

    Oh for crying out loud....I wish that those "teachers" on here that think they are the bees knees, had actually worked in the big wide world, not just gone from Primary to Uni to school. Whilst you may not like it, skills that are needed at work (by that I mean working for an organisation that is not educational) are well supported through the skills gained by the Nationals. What use does a piece of paper that consists of 2,000 words on the existence of bits and bytes give over being able to actually construct a database?

    No doubt I will be shot down.....
  18. *** does that mean? Why would any course get students to write an essay on bit and bits? How do the nationals teach normalisation better than other courses?
  19. robot1

    robot1 New commenter

    I think OCR Nationals have some problems. So do other ICT qualifications. For us it was the least worst option.
    But there seems to be a rather disturbing under-current within the debate. There seem to be many who hate ICT and think that computing is the only way to go. These people are mad! I have been in the game for nearly twenty years and have taught my fair share of both computing and ICT. COMPUTING IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. It is a niche subject that has no mass appeal.
    So if you are in the business of delivering a subject to the whole school than it has to be ICT. So please stop saying OCR Nationals ICT are bad and therefore adopting a computer science type course is the answer. If the current ICT courses are poor, which they are then the answer has to be to make them better and more relevant.
    Be careful what you wish for. If you get your wish and ICT is wiped off the face of the earth and replaced with computing then you will be out of a job. Computing alone will not fill your timetable. If you are very very lucky you will end up in one teacher department with a poor future due to falling exam results (Computing is one of the lowest performing subjects at A-Level).
    So stop and think how you and your colleagues will survive without a job in the current economic situation. ICT as a subject delivered to the whole school has its place. At both KS3 and KS4 it should be compulsory as it is now. That is what we should be fighting for. Yes I admit to some self interest here, I have a family to feed and a mortgage to pay. But it’s not all self interest. My students really need to learn ICT at school. Their skills when they start are getting worse, not better. Employers need the workforce to have good ICT skills. Society needs its citizens to be skilled and knowledgeable about surviving in the information age.
  20. tonyuk

    tonyuk Occasional commenter

    Totally agree with previous post - I would further argue that the Government should get on the ball with vendor qualifications and grant them funding at post 16 so pupils can study the likes of CCNA or Microsoft Academy without having to wrap it in a BTEC etc to gain funding. This will make our pupils employable when they leave 6th form and gives a better option than just University.

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