ALL encourages members to respond to the DfE Content Review which is now open until 19 May 2021.

There is a parallel OFQUAL consultation on ensuing arrangements for the examinations themselves.


The Teacher Briefing 29 gives some of the key points about these reviews and may serve as a starting point for your thinking or discussion with colleagues.

In addition the Language Today editors provide here a pdf of the article called ‘The Debate on Content’ from the latest magazine which includes reference to recent research and to the view of ALL’s friends in the field of languages.  The thinking may serve to help you focus your own reflection on what sort of content in the GCSE examination is interesting and relevant to your learners, and what allows them to demonstrate their achievements best.

Languages Today content and Briefings are ALL membership benefits which exceptionally we now make available to the wider community, because of the significance of the proposed changes and the need for clarity.


From a historical viewpoint the GCSE format for Languages has changed several times since its creation in the late 1980s – the language of the rubrics has changed, access to dictionaries has been allowed and then removed, different requirements in speaking tests have been tried. At the time of the creation of the National Curriculum, a Language was a statutory requirement for all pupils in KS3 and KS4, and there was accordingly a Programme of Study for KS3 and one for KS4; the Curriculum identified 7 Areas of Experience, and teachers were required to plan to visit all of them within each key stage; they were open-ended enough to marry up with the GCSE syllabus.  At that time there was a clear separation between the curriculum and the assessment process.

The Areas of Experience (from the first National Curriculum for Languages) :

  • Everyday activities
  • Personal and social life
  • The world around us
  • The world of education, training and work
  • The world of communications
  • The international world
  • The world of imagination and creativity


The proposals in the 2021 consultation are quite precise, and the questions are mostly focussed on these proposals, e.g. these to do with vocabulary

Q10. Do you agree with the requirement that 90% of words must be taken from the top 2,000 most frequently occurring words in the most widely spoken standard forms of the language?

Q12. Do you agree that the vocabulary lists proposed for GCSE should set out all content required for GCSE, even though in many cases some of this may have been learnt prior to the start of the GCSE course itself?

but sometimes offer scope for wider responses, e.g.

Q18. Do you agree that all rubrics will be in English?

Q22. Do you agree that, whilst students will continue to learn about the culture of the countries where the language is spoken, cultural content will not be specified or tested in the revised subject content?


There is already discussion ongoing in the Social media, and there are related articles on the ALL website which you might wish to explore, e.g. in the Guest Blog section of the Secondary Zone where individuals explore issues that interest them:


Alongside the official consultation we are aware of other surveys and activities which we mention here for clarity; this may not be a complete list:

ORA research survey from Oxford:

Pearson / Edexcel:


Please do not confuse these with the formal response channels, in the documents below.


ALL members will, as ever, have a variety of view on specific points but will be interested in others’ views. The Association encourages everyone to respond, and has planned two webinars to support colleagues in their preparation:

The first, on 25th March looked at the proposals in the review.

The recording, documentation and edited highlights of the Chat are here:


The date of the second webinar is now confirmed as 22nd April at 8pm.This event is reserved for ALL members to allow us to quote views in a collective ALL response. Individual responses are also very much encouraged.

If you are not currently a member of ALL you are welcome to join in order to attend this event.


The consultations do not close until May 19th so you should have time to respond after sharing ideas at the April webinar; ALL is considering making the recording and any associated presentations available for all after that event.


The official consultation documentation is available as follows:

DfE consultation document:

DfE consultation online:

OFQUAL consultation:


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