Not Just a Teacher

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Not Just a Teacher

Tearing off the plaster

October 12th, 2011 · 8 Comments · General

by spedy777

by spedy777

I’ve done it at last and I didn’t think it would come with such a sense of relief but it does. I have decided to take OCR Nationals out of our schools Key Stage 4 offering for ICT.

Should I have done it a lot sooner? Perhaps.

Am I just reacting to pressures and the growing voices that have now moved into the general public’s living room via ? No.

I have thought long hard for the past few years as to whether it should remain or be replaced. I have fought long hard against the dissenters. The course can be led by learning, taught with dynamic content, student centred, high calibre lessons. I have always said that a bad workman blames his tools.

Tool Users by Kaptain Kobold

Plus, let’s face it, this is hard to ignore when I have been judged as outstanding by OFSTED teaching an OCR Nationals lesson (see But, certain facts I can no longer ignore:

  • I am driving my department and the students to complete 3 or 4 GCSEs with very questionable worth as no-one is recognising the value of more than 1. The mark load is horrendous for all and the pressure to get it all done means learning sometimes get ignored for the sake of outcomes. Hence, there are valid arguments such as as to how schools are increasingly becoming exam factories
  • Further to the last point, the learning is essentially shoe-horned in. It is not the focus or necessarily the ideal from the lesson. This has never felt right and I can’t fool myself any more

So why didn’t I just rip the plaster off in one go and make the department and the students suffer less pain? A number of factors:

  • I had to have the right staff in place to fully diversify to offer media related, ICT and Computing courses. I have that now and no non-specialists.
  • I had to feel that ICT in my school was the strongest it could be in terms of it’s performance plus the credence of the subject from both students and staff
  • The timing had to be right in respect of not imposing too many changes at once on staff and students. Given that there was extending KS4 to 3 years, A Level Computing etc etc, there never seemed a ‘good’ time. Arguably, now is not the right time either with GCSE Computing also starting for us this year: But hey-ho let’s go.
  • Also, I never felt any ‘general’ GCSE ICT course out there was engaging and multi-disciplined enough for what I want our students to be learning. But I think that Edexcel look like they are making some headway: So. we are going with that.

Is this going to be the case of The King is dead, long live the King?


8 Comments so far ↓

  • Ryan Gibson

    Couldn’t agree more with you on all of these points. We are moving towards GCSE for some pupils and doing the Nationals with those that find exam style learning a challenge. This should (in theory!) mean that everyone ends up with a qualification they can access (and not punished just because they can’t do exams)

  • Dan Stucke

    Congratulations. We made the leap over the Summer ( and haven’t looked back. Still kind of finding our way with the iMedia course but the Computing GCSE course is flying and definitely a huge leap forward and just feels like it has great value for the futures of our young learners. And as you’ve mentioned, that has to be the driving force in the curricula that we provide.

  • David t

    Definately a wrong move. Ed excel ICT GCSE will now be scrapped by my department after 1 month trial and buying in resiuces from pearsons. It is so boring. I accept that there are some good units, but follow the Ed Excel training and the advice given and you teach the dull units first. My students hated it. To be fair, I have not taught CA yet, but do I gamble with investing more time in this time waster. I’m now looking at alternatives. I want to engage students not put them off a career in ICT. Thats what this course will do.

    • largerama

      Now that’s very interesting David because you are the first person I have heard to be really negative about the course. Especially as regards engagement. Where are you at?

  • MrG_ICT

    If you teach the units as they are taught by EdExcell then you are going to fall, It’s all discussion, but that’s the same with any exam board. it’s like dida was years ago, they give you a load of discussion points and unless your class are angels, then you need to change them.

    As far as engagement is concerned, OCR Nationals are deathly dull, but you can make things exciting by throwing the kids a bone here and there. Bottom set got more out of using audacity to make their own podcasts to revise than any other lesson.

    Sometimes i think as well you have to teach them some stuff they are interested to know, but not necessarally need to know for the exam. Keep it interesting. I had one kid say that if all lessons were like an episode of QI, it woudl be better.

  • largerama

    As always the way with these courses.
    It gets my goat when I go to board events and in other communciations I have with some teachers of my subject and they talk positively about courses as being something where:
    1) They are dictated to about what to teach
    2) They get the resources on a plate of what to teach and how to teach it
    3) They want to shortcut the process to get to the actual task done rather than any real concern for learning or growth of learning/thinking along the way

    Sometimes I wonder if it is just ICT and something tells me that is partly true. Is this a by-product of some many non-specialists dumped on the subject?
    Is this a result of the pressures put on the subject to provide so many points to school league tables?
    Is this as a result of a way of working that has become the norm which we now have to ‘train’ out of our teachers?
    I actually referred to some of this in my post:
    So, if what I am hearing is right then there is a lot of good stuff in the course and posibilities to teach it creatively, dynamically, etc. I have only had one person say this is not really possible on this course.

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