Saddo that I am, I am sat comparing the previous versions of OCR’s Sample Assessment Materials with those that have just been released by them as part of their specification – they were the first to announce their accreditation for the new Maths GCSE and so far looking at the Higher papers, the differences are subtle. A couple of questions have been removed, lots of questions remain the same but some have had additional sections added or parts removed. Regardless of their subtlety of these changes, it doesn’t make them any less important in terms of their implications in the classroom. For example the below is the before and after version of a question, with an additional part (b) and I’m sat here thinking “Ok I can teach most of my students to get part (a) and (b) requires a deeper understanding” … I can do that with (most of) my students! Once again though the issue will be ensuring that they are able to verbalise their reasons.
What does worry me is the “why isn’t it a good way to use this maths” tone of the question – we have to deal with the “when will I use this?” thing all the time. Don’t get me wrong I understand why the question is asking what it does, but surely there is a place for more “why would you use?” type questions .. its all about the tone! Big picture stuff Mr Examiner!
If you are a HOD I really would urge you to do exactly what I’ve done and look at the previous version alongside the accredited version of the SAM’s .. its given me more of an insight into what will be required come 2017 in terms of exam style questions. Even if you are aren’t a HOD I would also suggest you do the same … in all reality, some of you are the “HOD’s of tomorrow” and may well be in the position of being able to choose your exam board in 2 years time, but even as a classroom teacher its been a useful exercise.