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News - 2 May 2013

GCSE English plan leaves speaking test out of final grade

The speaking and listening element of GCSE English will no longer form part of the overall grade, under proposals from England's exams regulator Ofqual.

The move follows concerns that over-generous marking of speaking and listening tests by teachers contributed to last year's GCSE English debacle.

Thousands of students failed to achieve the grades they expected after Ofqual raised the grade boundaries.

Joe Walsh, of the National Association of Teachers of English (NATE), said: "What is proposed is essentially a downgrading of the importance of speaking and listening skills in the English GCSE."

Ofqual says the changes "do not imply any downgrading of speaking and listening skills," and they should not mean teachers having to alter what they teach.

In its November report into the GCSE English controversy the exam watchdog said it raised grade boundaries in June to compensate for inaccurate marking of speaking and listening tests by teachers.

The tests are administered and marked in schools by teachers.

Lavinia Newman, founder of ABDS comments:
“The changes will mean more emphasis on the written part of the exam as opposed to controlled assessments. Under the current arrangements the speaking and listening controlled assessment makes up 20% of the overall grade, with 40% on the reading and writing controlled assessment and 40% on the written exams.”

The proposals will reweight the remaining components and would see written exams counting for 60% of the marks. Ofqual says that the proposed change would make the exams harder for students who perform better in speaking and listening than in written exams.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "This is a matter for Ofqual, the independent regulator, which is responsible for GCSE standards. We support the action the regulator is taking to secure standards and integrity in these key qualifications."

If you need any help and advice with Free School or Academy Schools, contact Lavinia Newman or Peter Ham now to discuss how ABDS can help bring their experience to these matters.

ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
Tel: 023 8083 6900  E-mail: abds@netaccountants.net

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