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Which board for New Computuing GCSE Specs in 2016?

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by essexwideboy, Dec 18, 2015.

  1. essexwideboy

    essexwideboy New commenter

    Hi all, would be interested to get people's thoughts this subject. We currently do OCR but reviewing this in the light of next years changes. I am wondering which board will end up being the most popular or will it be evenly split? If one board is going to be more popular I'm thinking it would be a good idea to stick with it in terms of being able to get resources etc. as we are always short staffed (has anyone tried recruiting recently????) and could do with not having to reinvent the wheel.
  2. paullong

    paullong New commenter

    I would highly recommend AQA GCSE Computer Science. I've spent quite some time reviewing the specs and it is by far the best. OCR have only cut coursework down by half whereas AQA have cut it down to one third to reflect 60% down to 20%. OCR's coursework requires annotation at every stage whereas AQA's is much more based on outcomes with only necessary annotation. The subject content for AQA is clearly defined and it's obvious what will be tested. Eduqas and Edexcel have offerings but their subject content goes too far and I wasn't impressed with the coursework.

    Paul Long
    Education Consultant
    hollende likes this.
  3. essexwideboy

    essexwideboy New commenter

    Thanks Paul, is it a qualification you run a course on? Is less coursework an advantage as you have less control over outcomes?
  4. paullong

    paullong New commenter

    Less coursework with good quality assessment is definitely an advantage because every board will be 20% coursework and so you don't want lots more coursework for the same marks.

    Regarding courses and resources, I'm looking into this very seriously.
  5. gary_scott

    gary_scott New commenter

    We currently do Edexcel and are switching to Eduqas from September. One written exam, one practical exam and the programming assessment. Seems the best option for our pupils.
  6. sirspamalotless

    sirspamalotless Occasional commenter

    I can heartily recommend you avoid AQA like Black Death. It's a time-heavy specification, with boring nonsense coursework that takes an age to complete, don't believe the above poster's rubbish about no annotation needed - we were marked down the first year heavily because we followed that advice, and worst of all, the support is terrible. You will also find mountains of criticism about AQA's AS and.A Level - their specifications are a total nightmare and not doable by the vast majority of schools (search for reviews and comments about it). If you harbour ambitions about doing KS5 Computer Science, then do yourself a favour and use one exam board for KS4 and KS5 to save a huge amount of admin and time. EDUQAS is our choice for both GCSE AND A Level. So far, really impressed.

    PS Paul Long's enthusiasm probably stems from the fact that he works for AQA. Not exactly impartial, is it?
    spam66 likes this.
  7. tjra

    tjra Occasional commenter

    It's a tossup between Eduqas and Edexcel for us. I lost faith in OCR after the shambles of their controlled assessment a year and a bit ago.

    Edexcel positives: Good resources, already delivering (and the spec hasn't changed much), the "extra" exam actually seems quite good as it's all about thinking logically and solving problems without being in coursework setting.

    Edexcel negatives: You can't use Small Basic (this might just be my personal preference but Python and other high level languages are a slog for mixed ability groups), the 2 exams could be a lot more difficult than the samples given (not uncommon).

    Eduqas positives: The "extra" exam is an online one using Greenfoot which seems quite straightforward and could be taught in quite a fun way: you are less likely to get your fingers burnt by things cropping up you weren't expecting. They also let you do the controlled assessment in Small Basic (I believe?) which students much prefer to Python.

    Eduqas negatives: There is a lot of subject content (although most of the extra stuff seems to be included for that Greenfoot project). I've heard Eduqas aren't great with support too.
  8. NeitherMouseNorSock

    NeitherMouseNorSock New commenter

    Support is good with Eduqas imo. Only complaint I've heard is that you have to be accurate with answers against the mark scheme, which is not necessarily a bad thing...at least you know what to aim for!

    PS. Greenfoot v3 looks even easier as well.
  9. Twinklefoottoe

    Twinklefoottoe Senior commenter

    I can only talk from experience past, not what AQA are promising. The times that I've used or had to use this exam board have been a disaster, characterised by poor support, pedantic specifications each with a very large syllabus to get through, poor coursework and wholly unsatisfactory results. I do agree about the current A Level Computer Science - it's ridiculously difficult so if you want some consistency as students move through GCSE and on to A Level, and want the best course for your students. don't do AQA.
    NeitherMouseNorSock likes this.
  10. tosha82

    tosha82 New commenter

    My initial feelings for each board:
    WJEC/Eduqas - lots of pointless design/ict type theory - greenfoot specific stuff - not good prep for ks5
    OCR - looks the most difficult - good tasks though no internet rule for nea + very tight rules for running nea. OCR often screw up exams so additionally I have a lack of confidence in them
    Edexcel - straight forward paper and nea tasks though no internet rule is difficult to enforce.
    aqa- theory papers look straight forward - sample task looks tougher than edexcel's but students can use internet and nea looks easy to run.

    So AQA will probably be our choice just pipping edexcel.

    Does anyone have a similar view?
    hollende likes this.
  11. gigaswitch1

    gigaswitch1 Occasional commenter

    Is AQA still draft? I heard that the final spec will also have a no Inernet rule too! Not that I'm bothered about it. The stress of controlling what the kids can look at got on my nerves this year.
  12. Twinklefoottoe

    Twinklefoottoe Senior commenter

  13. gigaswitch1

    gigaswitch1 Occasional commenter

    No, Twink?
  14. tosha82

    tosha82 New commenter

    How are teachers going to enforce a no internet rule over an assessment period of 20 hours?

    How are schools that use google docs or office 365 going to manage the nea?

    In my opinion some common sense needs to be applied, particularly as the nea is only worth 20%.
  15. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    No Internet rule is easy to enforce in school, it should be possible to turn it off. students should be given a new profile that gives them access to only the resources that they need. Obviously this will mean that you can't use online resources so will need local resources - but an alternatives at no cost is Libre Office. The same requirement is needed for online exams. Most schools also need to these as well? Should not take a decent technician long to set this up!
  16. tosha82

    tosha82 New commenter

    The difference is online exams don't take place over multiple sessions.

    Will we be required to take all mobile phones in? Have 1.5 meters between terminals? The boards need to be sensible here.
  17. gregometer

    gregometer Occasional commenter

    I wouldn't get too hot and sweaty over this. I'm sure some schools go crazy over trying to enforce impractical rules, and many just jump through a few hoops to make it look like they are trying. Setting up new profiles for an exam for a year 11 cohort should only take a network manager a morning. They have lots of free time so won't mind.
  18. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    Just set it up so all of the accounts are disabled between lessons - not really an issue. Yes you need to follow the regulations. I know that spot checks were being done last year by QCA.
  19. gigaswitch1

    gigaswitch1 Occasional commenter

    I'm happy they have put these rules in place. I'm sick of the stress of it. Another teacher I know got grief if oCR for having the same headings on a testing table: nothing else just testing table. The only thing that worries me is if they make these tasks so stupid that the kids can't complete them.
  20. clickschool

    clickschool New commenter

    Not happy that AQA have ramped up the difficulty of the coursework - next year's Year 11 are going to have a harder time than present y11s - and that's before curriculum changes! The CA is not comparable between this year and next.

    Having said that, I'd stick with the devil you know - given I have invested a lot of time in producing GCSE CS Materials for the AQA course! As Paul has said, the examined content is clearly linked to the curriculum. The free CA moderation courses are reasonably helpful. Students got marked down a little, but I can broadly see why, so not a complete mystery. Concerned that an administration error got missed by AQA (though fortunately worked out favourably).

    Teachers I know generally speak positively about OCR.

    Can't comment on other courses. The only constant is change...as they say.

    CA - you really do need to arrange for separate accounts with no web access and also limit when the accounts can be logged into.

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