Jonathan Osborne (TES, January 2) is right to be concerned about the impact of the current scheme of coursework assessment in GCSE science on the laboratory experience of pupils. However, he is wrong to assume that the awarding bodies are uninterested in this issue.
Right now, OCR has two GCSE science pilot schemes running. Specifications D and E are pioneering innovative approaches and are giving new heart to teachers whose passion for science has been frustrated, if not dulled. In both specifications, coursework is used to assess a much wider range of skills and abilities, to encourage teachers to look beyond the limited number of "standard" investigations that Mr Osborne identifies. Evaluation of these pilots by teachers, and other research, will inform the development of new GCSE specifications for first teaching in September 2006.
The 10 subject officers in the OCR science team are in daily contact with teachers and the science education community. Senior examiners who work with subject officers to develop specifications, to set papers and moderate coursework, to lead training sessions and to develop materials are, almost without exception, teachers.
Assistant director (qualifications)
OCR (Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations)
1 Regent Street, Cambridge