Theme: GCSE Languages 2021

Background: OFQUAL was tasked by the Secretary of State with mitigating the impact of the 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.

Ofqual is removing the requirement for assessments to use words outside vocabulary lists, and will “permit glossing where necessary whilst maintaining level of knowledge and accuracy needed for the highest grades.” There are other changes to specifications e.g. around optional questions.

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


OFQUAL is consulting on its proposed Speaking criteria until 11:45pm on 26 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.

Extracts from the Consultation documents – NB Details will be updated once decisions are made.

… 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 this insightful Briefing-26-GCSE-Languages-2021-1.pdf

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