It was another busy year for our UK exam board OCR in which it marked nearly one million GCSE exam papers and nearly 600,000 AS and A Levels in summer 2018 alone.
New, reformed GCSEs in a further 16 subjects, introduced into classrooms in autumn 2016, were examined for the first time in summer 2018. The previous summer saw results for the first GCSEs in English Language, English Literature and Mathematics move from the old A*–G grades to the new 9–1 grading system. This summer, they were joined by subjects including Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, Geography and History as well as a new double award Combined Science GCSE.
It has been a particularly good year for OCR’s Cambridge Nationals qualifications. Full-time vocational qualifications that are equivalent in size to GCSEs, Cambridge Nationals are available in a range of subjects and provide an excellent start for vocational study, enabling progression to further study or apprenticeships. All OCR’s Cambridge Nationals submitted to England’s Department for Education have been included in 2020 performance tables. In total, more than 77,000 students were entered for Cambridge Nationals in 2018, 300 per cent up on last year.
Research accumulated over 10 years highlighted our BioMedical Admissions Test's ability to predict exam results and future performance and importantly showed that it can support the goal of widening access to medicine.
Demand for Cambridge Technicals, OCR’s vocational alternative to A Level, has grown too. These qualifications, aimed at students aged 16 and over, are designed with the workplace in mind. Over 23,000 students achieved a Level 3 Cambridge Technical this year, up 12 per cent on 2017. Pictured above are two students from University Technical College Sheffield who took up places at the University of Cambridge using Cambridge Technicals in Engineering qualifications.
We already know that students who take Cambridge Technicals are successful at progressing to apprenticeships or employment, but research we published in March 2018 showed that the qualification is also useful for getting into university. The research tracked approximately 7,500 students and found that over 95 per cent received at least one offer from higher education (HE) institutions and over 86 per cent were accepted onto an HE course. One example is two students from University Technical College Sheffield who took up places to study Engineering at the University of Cambridge with Cambridge Technicals in Engineering qualifications, alongside A Levels in Maths, Further Maths and Physics.
Meanwhile OCR’s Functional Skills range continues to prove popular, with reformed versions of the qualifications currently on track for first teaching in September 2019. OCR has been at the forefront of this reform work and, following research on ‘real-life’ assessments, aims to make its new qualifications available to schools and colleges for planning from spring 2019.
OCR is also engaging closely with new T Levels in the UK, sharing its historical expertise in this area of vocational education. OCR has set out some principles for success, including the need for clarity of purpose, setting the bar high, focusing on quality not quantity and keeping things under review.
Cambridge Global Perspectives, a unique and innovative skills-based programme, is Cambridge International’s fastest growing subject at Cambridge IGCSE and Cambridge International A Level, and this year saw it introduced at Cambridge Primary and Lower Secondary. Underpinned by educational research with the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education, the programmes were successfully piloted by more than 40 schools around the world for two years prior to launch. This new development means Cambridge Global Perspectives is now available at every stage of the Cambridge Pathway.
Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing also enjoyed a good year. Educational institutions, professional organisations and governments around the world rely on its tests and expertise in assessment, while its network of centres in over 150 countries allows applicants to take the test wherever they are in the world.
In September 2017 Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing published research into its BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT). The findings, accumulated over 10 years, highlighted the leading university admission test’s ability to predict on-course exam results as well as future course performance and importantly showed that it can help support the goal of widening access to medicine.
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