Theme: GCSE Languages 2021

Background: OFQUAL was tasked by the Secretary of State in Autumn 2020 with mitigating the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on schooling in the academic years 2019-20 and 2020-21.


For Languages the major recommendation was to make the spoken language assessment an endorsement (rather than a formal test) assessed by teachers during the course of study.

Since then (January 2021) new arrangements have been requested by the Secretary of State to replace public examinations in 2021. In consequence much of the information on this Briefing no longer applies, but is kept here for historical and reference purposes.

The indication currently (January 2021) is that Endorsement arrangements for Speaking may well be retained as described.


Key messages : The changes to Speaking are for 2021 only.


OFQUAL consulted on its proposed Speaking criteria in October 2020.

The consultation documents stress that these are temporary changes to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on schools, students and teachers. The effect will be for qualifications taken in summer 2021 only.


Details of the OFQUAL requirements (updated December 2020) .


… the proposed changes … are intended to have the following impact … in 2021:

  •  to remove the assessment of spoken language from the calculation of the overall qualification result (the 9-1 grade)
  • to put in place flexible requirements for the assessment of spoken language by teachers
  • to put in place common criteria for the assessment of spoken language by teachers
  • to require the teacher’s assessment of spoken language to be marked on a 3-point scale – pass, merit, distinction (or not classified)
  • to require each centre to provide a statement confirming that it has taken reasonable steps to make sure there is an opportunity for an assessment of spoken language for every learner
  • to require the outcome of the assessment of a learner’s spoken language to be separately reported alongside the 9 to 1 grade when results … are issued


Read more on the Speaking Endorsement criteria here: Revised for Jan 21 Teacher Briefing 26 GCSE 2021

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