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OCR new A level

Discussion in 'Religious Education' started by delahay, Jun 14, 2015.

  1. delahay

    delahay New commenter

    I don't teach the OCR, I do Edexcel, but a friend who went to the pre-launch of the OCR new A level RS spec said there was no Kant and it was full of Christology and Theology. Has anyone seen or heard anything about the Edexcel?

    Am filled with dread. My background is philosophy and the thought of teaching Christology is not one I relish. I also wonder how we will be able to recruit at A level.
  2. doctorwhofan

    doctorwhofan New commenter


    We've decided to move to AQA Philosophy rather than stick with OCR and have to implement changes that we don't think our kids will engage with.
  3. mkl

    mkl New commenter

    Hi all,

    Are the draft specifications already on the Boards' websites, or is there any way of accessing them?

    Many thanks.
  4. san38

    san38 New commenter

    Word is draft specs will be out around August.

    doctorwhofan I have wondered about this option. I get excellent numbers currently but don't think I will be able to pitch so successfully for proposed A level with the amount of systematic religion and in my view Phil and Ethics is much more relevant and challenging and leads more naturally to a range of degree subjects. I am worried though about subject knowledge - my degree is RS and I have only studied Phil of Religion. Looking at AQA first topic 'epistemology'. Are you Phil qualified? I have tried to ask for assistance on the Philosophy forum but they are very 'sniffy' about idea of it being taught by RE teachers and say that they have a very different focus to the RE phil. Any thoughts/ advice? Also, apparently although the Phil A level changed in 2014 it will then change again 2017 so there will only be a year of teaching it and then we would have to change again which puts me off a bit
  5. Lloydo82

    Lloydo82 New commenter

    Hi San,

    I had the same concerns as you....please read an email AQA sent me...

    'Thank you for contacting AQA. Philosophy is a Phase 3 Reform subject and we are committed to re-develop the specification as long as Ofqual and DfE are satisfied with our proposals. We are, however, fairly confident that there won't be any reasons why we shouldn't be able to carry on offering Philosophy after 2017.'

    The AQA course has recently been re-designed and from what I can see 'future proofed'. I know the email doesn?t fully answer your question about the extent to which the current course will be changed but I was reassured the course would still exist; I was worried it may be scrapped if too many of us jumped ship away from the brand new shiny RS A-level which in my opinion won?t engage pupils.

    I am not a Philosophy or even an RS specialist but love both subjects (As long as it's a Phil/Ethics apporach to RS). My subject knowledge can't be too bad considering that a third of my students got A/A*s last year (whole cohort entry for OCR Full Course). I'm sure this is because the current GCSE is way too easy and because there is not enough focus on cramming heads with knowledge ;)

    There is a great book I am reading to brush up on epistemology, 'AQA AS Philosophy' (Cardinal, Hayward and Jones), 'The Philosophy Book' (A big yellow book is also great).

    In terms of a different focus in Philosophy compared to RS it depends whether you took a philosophical approach to RS Phil or a more content based approach. In AQA there is greater focus on pupils being able to show their understanding clearly and succinctly (check out the AQA website for example questions and answers ? the current paper follows a similar format to the OCR RS GCSE paper e.g. knowledge sections, understanding sections and evaluate sections). Pupils are expected to be able to analyse arguments in more detail. There is also an expectation that pupils will understand arguments in context...i.e. how their is an original formulation of the ontological argument, which was then challenged, which then results in a reformulated version of the ontological argument. Pupils are expected to sustain a line of argument, drawing on their knolwedge and understanding, in the evaluation questions but this is required in the current Philosophy and Ethics spec if students are to reach the top band.

    There is a course running in London on 24th September which I've just booked on which looks great...it helps you get your head around how to teach the more difficult concepts.

    Anyway, in short we are jumping ship despite the risks. It?s either that or having no A-level at all?my students were very disparaging when I showed them the document outlining the structure and content of the new A-level.
  6. san38

    san38 New commenter

    Thank you very much Lloyd. I can't see my school letting me go to London - too expensive from here but might give it a try! Firstly I am going to order those books so thank you very much for the recommendations. I love Phil of Religion and did study it at degree and I am tempted as so much of the AQA course is Religious Phil and Ethics. I have shown proposals to my existing 6th formers and they were: 'no offence but no way would I have picked that'.

    But yes, cramming heads with content and historical jargon clearly what we should all be doing ;),

    Thank you very much for your comprehensive answer - reassuring just to note that others are looking at similar options to myself.
  7. NoseyMatronType

    NoseyMatronType Star commenter

    I am a bit apprehensive about AQA Philosophy. Through 'the grapevine' I have heard that pupils tend to end up a grade lower than they would if they had studied RS.

    As for the sniffiness of the philosophers mentioned further up this thread, I wouldn't let that put anyone off. I've been immersing myself in philosophical works for several years now. There are accessible summaries of even the most impenetrable thinkers around these days.

    There is still another option: do Buddhism. There's lots of Eastern philosophy involved, and for my money, notable figures like Nagarjuna and Chuang Tzu are just as profound and interesting as, say, Plato and Kant.
  8. san38

    san38 New commenter

    Thanks noseymatron - yes, that worries me a bit too. The anthology looks very heavy for the type of y12s that I see in my 'normal' comp. I think if I do stick with RS I will go for Buddhism and also make that one of my 2 religions at GCSE. A quick vote of my current students indicated that Buddhism would be the religious most of them would choose to study if they had to - the worry was the 'had to'! Do they want to -not really! Either way may struggle I think to get sufficient numbers to be allowed to run. Obviously don't have to start teaching new spec until next year but the crucial thing for me is which one I'm going to try and 'sell' in our September open evening for the following year.
  9. San 38 when I was starting my A levels our school hired a new head of RE who opted to change the A level from Phil and Ethics to Buddhism and Ethics. At first a few of us kicked up a stink as we wanted to do philsophy, but she sold it to us by saying that Buddhism is far less "religious" in content than philosophy would have been, Buddhism is all about questioning the world we live in, questioning the nature of suffering and morality, those big questions that people want to debate, without continualy having to discuss God. By the time we finished year 11 she had manged to convinve 45 students to take RS at A level as we all wanted to study eastern philosophy instead of Christian pilosophy. The year before they had only manged to get 12 AS students. I think lots of students will opt to study Buddhism if it's sold right, it has a massive celeb following, it's not concerned with God and doctrine and they get a chance to discuss some of the most intresting topics in RS from a non Christian veiwpoint (which to many students who are athiest is a big pull).
  10. san38

    san38 New commenter

    Thank you, that sounds encouraging. I think I'm feeling a bit anxious because typically my degree course covered every main religion except Buddhism! Reading ahead :)
  11. There are some excellent introduction texts. The teach yourself buddhism is a good start and the foundations of buddhism by Rupert getting. Some fabulous resources for a level on here. It's such an intresting religion to study, well worth tge effort! If you want any help email me.
  12. san38

    san38 New commenter

    Thank you, that's really kind of you, I was going to ask for text suggestions! I've also ordered the aqa Phil books just to have a look. obviously I will have to pick 2 religions at gcse, so I think I will make Buddhism one of those and then this will be a natural progression if I go this way. Thank you again for your suggestions.
  13. jerseyperson

    jerseyperson New commenter

    Hi all. This is such an interesting discussion for me as I'm leaving my old department, the new head is thinking Buddhism at GCSE and then again at A level, and I'm taking over a department where they have traditionally taught Buddhism at AS. I love teaching Buddhism anyway, so much meaty philosophy there but without the western analytical philosophy tradition of premises and conclusions etc (not that I don't like the academic rigour, of course, but it can be wearing). Incidentally, between 2007-2010 I taught A level Philosophy , I was also an examiner for 3 series and I even sat the exam myself! It's really different from the RS. Better in some ways, worse in others. But it's a big jump (well it was for my mind) from GCSE RS to A Level Philosophy and not for the faint hearted (students or teachers!). And yes, results were lower by at least a grade. Having said that, there have been a lot of changes since then and my understanding is that it is much improved.
  14. san38

    san38 New commenter

    Thanks jerseyperson, this is one of my possibilities. One concern I have on the A level is that if I have to pick 3/4 elements&miss out the textual studies then kids will have to deal with Buddhist philosophy AND the philosophical areas you talk about -plus Ethics. Wondering if it will be v.confusing to study an 'Eastern'world view alongside a 'western' philosophy? I hope this makes,sense and would welcome any thoughts
  15. NoseyMatronType

    NoseyMatronType Star commenter

    Just got the new AQA AS/A-level specification through the post today and it actually looks like the 'Philosophy and Ethics' approach has been retained. In fact, that's what it mostly consists of.

    I keep doing a double-take, unable to quite believe what I'm seeing. Don't know how AQA have got away with it. But it's good news.
  16. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    Now I understand why as a very experienced RS Teacher I can't get a job. I know and like my subject. How terrible it is to have religious content in A level. How unqualified one is if you happens to have a degree in the subject.

    How about opening your minds up and seeing if you could actually bring yourselves to learn some RE? Or, teaching a subject you like and letting us really qualified RE teachers have a go?

    Feeling seriously grumpy reading some of these complaints.

    Count yourselves lucky to have a job.

    (I'm not usually this judgmental but I don't think it's unreasonable to have RE be about religion. If you want to teach Philosophy instead market yourselves as Philosophy teachers...)
  17. I've often found that there's a mix of students taking RE - some that love the philosophy/ethics side, and some that love learning about other cultures and faiths. I'm probably going to do some more research into Whichever religion we end up picking (edexcel), quite looking forward to learning something new!
  18. delahay

    delahay New commenter

    I don't like the Edexcel because if you do Buddhism you also have to do Buddhist ethics. I do like the look of the WJEC AS level. Does anyone have any experience of this board? The OCR seems really content heavy.
  19. san38

    san38 New commenter

    Did you have any further thoughts on this delahay? Im really only just starting to look at it - and I agree the OCR looks ridiculous - particularly the amount of phil in Y12 if you are going to co-teach with AS. I am thinking WJEC as well - Ive got a course booked for early next year -let me know if you would like to discuss after I've been

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