This course is intended for teachers of OCR A level Biology who want to explore how to improve the practical skill outcomes for their students. It will include information about skills assessed in the written exams as well as through the Practical Endorsement. The PAG activities will be discussed, including the expected standards and approaches to the Practical Endorsement. The aim is to increase understanding of the principles behind the Practical Endorsement and to explore how teachers can support their students at different stages in their A level course.

There will also be a focus on developing students’ ability to answer practical-based exam questions.

Examples of questions will be used to illustrate what is expected of top-grade students. Strategies and activities to develop students’ ability to answer practical-based questions will be included.


  • Improve your understanding of the requirements and standards expected in the Practical Endorsement
  • Find out how move your students towards mastery in the practical skills
  • Explore strategies to increase student attainment in practical-based exam questions across the ability range
  • Take away activities to use with your students to build confidence in their practical skills.

Online | Tuesday 9 November 2021

  • Teachers of OCR A level Biology
  • Teachers leading the Practical Endorsement
  • A specially prepared folder of detailed notes, practical advice and guidance
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance


10.00 – 11.00am: Standards expected in the Practical Endorsement component

  • The key messages from moderators’ reports
  • Demonstrating progression over the two year course. For example, what is an acceptable level of teacher support at different stages of the course?
  • How to ensure that the CPAC competencies are exhibited ‘consistently and routinely’
  • Recognising how ‘competence’ in a skill compares with ‘mastery’

11.00: Morning Break

11.15 – 12.00 pm: Moving students towards mastery of practical skills – in CPAC competencies 1, 3 and 4

  • What is the expected standard and evidence that will be looked for?
  • Adopting a differentiated approach, both at different stages of the course and with different students.
  • Developing students’ ability to use and apply scientific methods and practices – for example how to build confidence when following written instructions and how to recognise when students are assessing and minimising risks

12.00– 12.45 pm: Moving students towards mastery of practical skills – in CPAC competencies 2 and 5

  • Strategies to enable students to demonstrate these competencies consistently and routinely
  • Developing and assessing the more challenging skills e.g. opportunities for students to select equipment and measurement strategies or to make adjustments when necessary.
  • Researching, referencing and reporting – skill-building ideas to develop students’ competence in using secondary sources to support planning and conclusion

12.45– 1.45 pm: Lunch

1.45 – 2.30 pm: Raising student achievement in practical-based exam questions

  • Using the language of measurement – ideas and activities to embed the key terms
  • Strategies to improve exam technique in practical-based questions
  • Examples of questions testing different assessment objectives

2.30 – 2.45pm: afternoon break

2.45- 3.30pm Developing the higher-level skills to stretch and challenge students

  • Examples of practical-based exam questions demonstrating the standard expected by top grade students
  • Activities to develop students’ skills of planning and evaluating experimental procedures
  • Processing, analysing and interpreting qualitative and quantitative experimental results – ideas for developing these skills throughout the course

3.30pm: Depart

Fiona Jones

Fiona Jones has taught A level Biology for 38 years, for much of this time in a management role.  She has successfully led teams through curriculum change and has a breadth of experience encompassing many aspects of post-16 education.  Fiona is an experienced trainer and has delivered a range of courses for both students and teachers. As an A level examiner she understands how important it is that students acquire and develop the skills necessary for success.