This summer saw the first pupils complete two-year GCSE courses in Damp;T under the new controlled assessment regulations. Yet many teachers are not aware of the new rules or that they have been updated this year. And the altered title - from "coursework" to "controlled assessment" - has been far more than a name change.
The new rules mean teachers cannot credit pupils when they have given them additional assistance beyond that described in the specification. And teachers must record any such assistance on a form. If a teacher gives advice about how to improve a work in progress, this will be reflected in the mark awarded. So it is goodbye to previously common practices, such as putting a sticky note on work to suggest improvements.
It does not always make life easy, but I think it does give a more accurate reflection of the pupil's natural capability - rather than simply their ability to accept feedback. Critics will argue that it could lead to pupils achieving lower marks. But I think it demands more initiative from pupils. To achieve the best results, they now have to demonstrate they have a clear understanding of what is required - not just getting the "correct" answers from the teacher to put in their portfolio. But there are still ways to help and guide them without breaking the rules.
You can use posters to display the assessment criteria for the controlled assessment and train the pupils to mark each other's - and their own - work. This can be reinforced during starters or plenaries, where pupils can be encouraged to evaluate and justify their assessments.
You can also run a parallel project in two different study periods, then use exemplars from these to model and explain what is required in the controlled assessment class. For example, if you have a class for two distinct periods each week, the first period could be used on an alternative project - say a moving toy - where students can learn and practise the design skills needed for their controlled assessment, which might be focused on "storage". The important thing is that none of the pupils can precisely copy the work being carried out for the parallel project - but they should be able to learn from it and the detailed teacher feedback they are given.
Paul Anderson teaches Damp;T and engineering in West Yorkshire. He is also a member of the Design and Technology Association's JDF Innovation Group and a senior examiner and moderator for a leading exam board
The Joint Council for Qualifications' instructions for conducting controlled assessments - http:bit.lyumargJ
Controlled assessment templates for electronic products have been shared by nw5298
For BTEC hospitality and catering try jonathanchinn's highly rated project workbooks, handouts and course planning
In the forums
Teachers discuss the trials and tribulations of controlled assessment and how best to approach it
For all resources and more controlled assessment support in food technology and other subjects visit www.tes.co.ukresources009.