Ofqual launches consultation on changes to GCSE English and English language

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Exams regulator Ofqual has today (Thursday, April 25) launched a consultation on changes to GCSE English and English language in order to help protect against the problems experienced last year.

The proposals, which would apply to GCSEs in England, would see:

  • Speaking and listening assessment results no longer counting towards the overall grade
  • Final grades calculated from written papers and the reading and writing controlled assessments only, with the weightings of the remaining components changed
  • A new requirement for exam boards to report speaking and listening achievement separately on the GCSE certificate

Ofqual proposes to make these changes from summer 2014. This will mean changes for students currently in the first year of a two year course. But the proposals will not mean teachers having to change what they teach.

Currently, controlled assessment makes up 60 per cent of the marks for GCSE English (20 per cent speaking and listening and 40 per cent reading and writing), with written exams counting for 40 per cent. Our proposed option for re-weighting the remaining components would see written exams counting for 60 per cent of marks and controlled assessments counting for 40 per cent.

Ofqual’s investigation into the problems with GCSE English last summer found that the qualification was poorly designed, with this structure particularly vulnerable to the pressures of the accountability measures for schools.

Chief Regulator Glenys Stacey said: “Speaking and listening are, of course, very important skills. The proposals should not change what is taught in schools. These skills will still be assessed and the results will still be reported.

“But we have found that the design of the GCSE English qualification is seriously flawed. The proposed changes will make it more robust and will help protect against any repeat of the problems experienced last year. They will also mean a better balance between controlled assessment and written exams for the qualification.

“We want to hear what people think before we make our final decision.”

The consultation can be found at http://comment.ofqual.gov.uk/speaking-and-listening/

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Notes to editors

  1. For more information contact the Ofqual press office on 0300 303 3342 or 07798 924552 (out of hours).
  2. Ofqual’s report on GCSE English in 2012 can be found here