Over the past eight years I have found that the OCR exam board have pioneered high expectations of students, recognising and rewarding outstanding achievement, whilst not penalising students for mistakes through positive marking. I have marked for the exam board, so I have also been privy to ‘behind the scenes‘ conversations about marking and I have to say it is rigorous! The resources provided, including the text books, are to a very high standard and the courses are helpful and adaptable to the needs of teachers.
So you may think I am biased towards the exam board but that was certainly not the case back in October/ November 2015, when I read the first draft of the OCR spec changes. In fact I was ready to jump ship – teacher overboard!
The first draft presented by OCR for the 2016 changes was, to say the least, unachievable. Frightening is the word I think I used (I can’t post some of the other words). Most of the main philosophers from familiar topics had all changed and Christian Thought, well, I didn’t even know where to start. The outcome looked dismal. I would say ‘worse case scenario‘ but then I looked at Edexcel’s proposal, who expected students to answer questions from an unseen original text (even with a Philosophy Degree the original text exemplar made me scratch my head!).
So when I attended a recent OCR course (during March in Manchester) I was prepared for the worst (with the heavy snow forecasted I even considered cancelling because I thought ‘is there any point?’) How wrong was I! The first draft of the spec has been transformed into ‘manageable’ chunks of learning. Philosophy and Ethics are similar to the current spec and the changes made are realistic and in most cases appreciated (bye bye Kant’s Moral Argument!)
Christian Thought is workable (not great) and I hope OCR add a few more specific names to clarify the content but it makes the best of the situation (the situation being that Religious Studies has to have a stronger religious focus). So, whilst advertising to students may be more difficult and there is less medical ethics to appeal to students who wish to train as Doctors etc, I think the course is still appealing to students and will continue to be popular. We have to get back on board first.
Here is a break down of my interpretations of the changes, which are currently awaiting accreditation so may change again.
- In Ethical Application topics students now only apply Natural Law and Situation Ethics to Euthanasia and Kant and Utilitarianism to Business Ethics, rather than all four ethics to all four application (as currently stands).
- Different comparisons are specified. I.e. Plato’s FOG with Aristotle’s PM
- Situation Ethics has replaced Christian Ethics in the Ethics and Application sections
- 50% to 50% emphasis on A01 to A02
- Removal of part a) b) questions – all questions are style of current A2
Updated Changes: AS students now answer two from a choice of three questions and A2 answer three from a choice of four questions.
- All Christian Thought A2 is new – no links/ overlap
- 40% to 60% emphasis on A01 to A02
Break Down of New Unit: Christian Thought AS:
Orange: Familiar content
Purple: New content
Please note: The views expressed in this blog are based on my own views and experiences with OCR. Also the content is based on the understanding I have of the information, so may not accurately portray the final decision.
Food for Thought: The grass is not always greener!