With the end of the academic year looming, everybody is busily preparing their resource banks for the non-exam assessment (NEA). There is some anxiety amongst teachers on what to include here and so I have prepared a list of things I would include and also some collections of resources put together by outstanding practitioners in the field. One such collection of resources is freely provided by Outwood Grange Academy Trust (OGAT) and is a fantastic example of resources that candidates would find useful for the NEA.
I have noticed that what a lot of teachers are putting together falls into the following categories:
Candidates will need guidance on how to decompose the problems and plan how to solve them. They can do this with flowcharts and pseudocode so you may want to provide some support material for this such as:
Some examples of past work that they have done this in will hopefully jog the memory.
It is a good idea to have some syntax support for your chosen language, I have produced a guide for Python that includes examples of all the techniques required for the GCSE NEA.
You can (and probably should) include some more detailed language guides and this one is particularly good.
There are lots of free Python books and there is a good collection here.
OGAT have a good collection of example demonstrating the key syntax here.
You can also get the entire Python docs here.
Just having programming text books is not going to help unless you have applied the techniques in them yourself to solve problems so another very useful resource you should include is a candidates prior programs and some examples of good quality code that solves given problems. You could for example have candidates complete the code challenges here, or these additional examples.
This will help candidates remember the process of problem solving and they can draw on their past programming experience to help them in the NEA.
You may also want to include some examples of completed NEA work so they can see how it can be approached and presented.
OGAT again have some good examples of program examples.
There are several algorithms in the specification that candidates should be familiar with and it is a good idea to have examples of these in your resource bank. Here is a great resource that has lots of algorithms annotated for Python and is in a handy .pdf:
This project also has lots of algorithms in lots of other languages.
OGAT also provide some very accessible examples of algorithms.
Candidates will find a checklist of things to include extremely helpful and you can find these in several different resources. Essentially they are all simpler versions of the mark scheme in the form of a checklist. This OGAT resource ties it all together nicely.
Candidates have historically struggled with testing so again having access to some stimulus that demonstrates thorough testing would be advisable. This could in the form of their previous work or with exemplars. Candidates should not be provided with template to use however as this crosses over into writing frames and these would be considered malpractice.
Whilst as a teacher you can help with general syntax errors it is useful to prepare students to deal with bugs and errors in code and make these exercises or resources available for use in the NEA. Candidates should be practiced in reading through code to find potential logic or syntax errors.
If any code is copied or resources are copied then they must be referenced and an example of how to reference appropriately would be beneficial. There is no formal requirement for a particular referencing system but this covers it nicely.
A post about the NEA wouldn’t be complete without a link to the OCR guide.
Submit your comments below and if you have any questions then you can get in touch with us via email on firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @OCR_ICT.
Rob Leeman - Subject Specialist - Computer Science