Amy Brewer, Science Subject Advisor
Teacher networks are an excellent way to share best practice, get guidance from the OCR team, tell us what you think of our qualifications and help us to support you better. They can be hosted online or face-to-face and they are free. We know teachers really appreciate the chance to work closely with the subject advisor team and here I explain what you can expect from attending and hosting an OCR science teacher network.
Networks in the autumn term begin with a review of the summer series and an opportunity to offer feedback. We always invite you to tell us what your experience was through the post-exam surveys, but this is another opportunity to share your thoughts.
We usually move on to sharing any news we have about updates to specifications, new resources we’re excited to share with you, or get your views on gaps we’ve identified in candidate knowledge and skills. We review the examiners’ reports in detail every year, looking for trends in how students are answering different types of questions. Networks are useful for us to get your insights from the classroom, too.
Each of our networks has a theme around a particular project or proposal we’re working on. That might be practical work in schools, strategies for delivering maths skills in science, or increasing visibility of diverse STEM contributors through the curriculum. We present the evidence we’ve been considering, offer ideas and support that we can provide, and give you a chance to tell us what you think. The insight you give is vital for our understanding of the challenges different schools are facing and how we might be able to support you better.
Networks later in the year tend to focus on revision materials or support with making and marking assessments and mock examinations. The online networks usually last around an hour, but we’re happy to stay longer to address all questions or concerns.
We usually offer an online teacher network each term for GCSE, Cambridge Technicals and A Level sciences. Teachers are encouraged to ask as many questions as possible, and these are either addressed by the subject advisor leading the event, or another colleague monitoring the virtual chat-box.
However, there is even more to be gained from a face-to-face teacher network. Primarily, teachers report they feel much more confident to actually network with one another, compared with the online events. We encourage as many schools from the local area to attend, and in this way you get a chance to meet subject specialists delivering the same qualifications within similar local contexts. Teachers get a chance to swap ideas, share schemes of work, offer advice on timetabling issues, and so on.
A great way to initiate this is for part of the network to be delivered by a teaching colleague who can present for ten minutes or so on a topic of their choice, such as a challenge they’ve been facing, something they’ve resolved to great effect in their school, or how they are using assessment and data to support their students. This is often a great catalyst for conversation and helps to build fruitful relationships within local communities of teachers.
We will work with you to agree on content (A Level/GCSE/Applied Science or a little of each) and a mutually agreed date and time. We will then advertise the network on our website, in our newsletters and on social media, while tickets will be available on Eventbrite.
Face-to-face networks often last up to two hours, at the end of the school day, and we give enough time for other teachers to travel before we get started. The subject advisor will attend with appropriate resources and materials for the session.
All you need to do is arrange a suitable room, make sure there is parking available for your visitors – and maybe stick the kettle on! We’ll keep in touch with you and tailor our session to what you need most. Perhaps you’ve got a number of new teachers in your department and want us to talk them through the qualifications and assessments in a breakout room while you talk to the other schools about how you’re making sure all of the PAGs are covered? Perhaps you’ve just had your A Level practical endorsement and you want to discuss the monitoring process with other schools? Or maybe you want to facilitate a Level of Response workshop?
While a network is not a professional development event, we’re happy to support you to deliver a networking session that everyone benefits from. We’ll return as often as you need us, but hopefully we’ll enable you to foster permanent links with local schools and positive, collaborative relationships.
Firstly, visit the Teacher Networks hub to book onto the next online teacher network or check for one in your local area. If you can’t find one locally and would like to host a teacher network at your centre, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, you can email the science team directly via email@example.com to discuss how to get a network set up in your area.
Share your thoughts in the comments below. If you have any questions, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_Science. You can also sign up to subject updates to keep up-to-date with the latest news, updates and resources.
Amy joined OCR in May 2022 and is a subject advisor for GCSE Sciences and Applied Science. Before joining OCR, Amy taught Chemistry to 11-18 year olds for 16 years and was responsible for planning her school’s science schemes of learning. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Amy mentored PGCE students, was responsible for the progress of KS5 science students, and is committed to improving diversity and inclusion in the sciences.