GCSE 2021

I am going back to work in exactly two weeks’ time and am very concerned that I still can’t find any information about the speaking component of the MFL GCSE exams in 2021. The Ofqual document setting out the decisions on the changes for next year says that “the spoken language assessment [will be] an endorsement reported on a 3-point scale (pass, merit and distinction) against common assessment criteria. To be assessed by teachers
during the course of study.” It goes on to say “Details of the arrangements for the endorsement are being worked on and will be published in due
course but in time for teaching from September 2020.” As yet, I can’t find these details, so I suppose Ofqual and I differ on our understanding of “in time for teaching from September 2020”.

The small print suggests that the format will largely be up to schools: “To be clear, the expectations are that the speaking skills should be assessed but in an integrated way that supports classroom practice, that is no formal assessment settings and arrangements other than where that is preferred and organised by the centre. The focus is on reducing the disruption within a centre and to the teaching time for MFL and other subjects that is caused by the formal speaking exam. There is no intention to replace one formal assessment with another that places burden on teachers and centres and takes students away from the classroom.” I think that this is well-intentioned. However, when we had speaking controlled assessments, rather than a formal speaking exam, they took up more time and were more disruptive to other subjects. Since the return of the speaking exam, we’ve done Year 10 and Year 11 mock orals during part of an INSET day as well as on a collapsed timetable enrichment day. This has meant that the only disruption to others has been the actual exams themselves. This would seem a sensible way to continue, maybe with reduced content for the exam to make it shorter, as this would ease the disruption on our colleagues as well as being more accessible for the students.