Our awarding body OCR (Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations) and the Cambridge Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM), began operating as our UK education group in March 2022. It aims to reach and support more schools and colleges in the UK with new digital products, a more inclusive curriculum and enhanced services. Delivering the first summer exam series in three years in June 2022 remained the top priority.
Once again, it was not a normal year for schools and colleges facing ongoing disruption from the pandemic such as teacher and student absences. OCR worked with schools and colleges to run the first major in-person exam series since 2019. OCR also supplied a substantial package of support measures for exam- taking students, to take account of Covid. We then prepared to issue exam results in August 2022 to more than half a million UK students taking GCSEs, A Levels, Cambridge Nationals and Cambridge Technicals.
“No matter what the pressures are around us, we know what our purpose is come results day. It’s about delivering for our students, making sure that they get the grades they need so that they can progress with their learning and their lives,” says Jill Duffy, Group Managing Director, UK Education.
Integration delivers for teachers and learners
Following integration, changes to our UK schools’ operations have been focused on improving how we serve teachers and learners. OCR will continue to be our UK awarding body, providing both general and vocational qualifications for schools and colleges, while Cambridge CEM will grow the teaching and learning support it offers to customers globally, while remaining part of our UK group.
The group has made progress on strategic priorities, assessing where digital really adds value to high-stakes qualifications. Pooling resources and expertise with Cambridge International in particular, it is running pilots in different subject areas to deliver new digital assessments. Trials of a digital mocks service taken entirely on-screen were completed in nine countries in three subjects, including Computer Science and History, which will help to inform the transfer of high-stakes qualifications, such as GCSEs, online.
Plans for how teams work together have been realised, with a single UK sales team illustrating the benefits of being one organisation. The team now delivers a broad portfolio of UK products and services, including Cambridge University Press and other third party resources, Cambridge International qualifications, Cambridge CEM assessments, continuing professional development through our Cambridge Assessment Network, as well as OCR examinations.
Cambridge Nationals – a new suite of qualifications
The group has created a new suite of Cambridge Nationals vocational qualifications at Key Stage 4 to be taught from September 2022. As well as developing the qualifications, we are rolling out a full and high-quality set of 28 new print and digital resources including student books, teacher resources and revision guides to support learning. The collaboration between our Press Education and OCR teams throughout the project has resulted in an exceptional package of resources. This has been made possible by the integration and represents a first for the organisation.
Building knowledge about the natural world
UK Education has been innovative not only around digital products and in our moves towards digital assessments but also in curriculum and content priorities. We have prioritised greening the curriculum as well as improving the relevance and inclusivity of our products.
The new GCSE in Natural History, to be taught from 2025, is the spearhead of a new effort to review our portfolio and create new sustainability and climate education learning and assessment products for students and teachers.
“Across Cambridge University Press & Assessment, we all share a very strong purpose. We care about every student and what every student can achieve.”
Jill Duffy, Group Managing Director, UK Education
Staying relevant for today’s students
Jill Duffy explains the challenge: “We are always asking ourselves, how do we make sure that our products, our services, qualifications and our assessments, are relevant to all our students? We were the first exam board to include modules on migration and on precolonial African history in our history specifications and we are continuing to review other subjects.”
Of the secondary school students in England that we serve, 34 percent are of Black, Asian or other minority ethnic backgrounds, and we believe it is important to reflect society in our qualifications, resources and assessments. For example, in the last year, we’ve added to the range and diversity of authors available on the OCR English Literature specifications.
We have launched new equality, diversity and inclusivity principles for our assessment materials, all of our assessors involved in setting assessment materials have received training ahead of writing papers to be sat by students from 2023. The training includes avoiding stereotyping and being mindful of unconscious bias.
In response to concerns for young people’s wellbeing especially during the pandemic, Cambridge CEM, working collaboratively with Cambridge International and our University’s Faculty of Education, created the ‘Cambridge Wellbeing Check’. This student-led online questionnaire was successfully piloted in May 2022 and will give schools and teachers in the UK and around the world an innovative way to assess and monitor their students’ wellbeing and better support them in the classroom.