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Summary of "Gove-levels"

I'm posting a very clear summary of the new proposals which are out for consultation, emailed by Philip Collie, the editor of Schoolzone.

As far as languages are concerned, it will be a major challenge to produce a non-tiered examination which is both challenging enough and accessible to a wide ability range. I do not think it is feasible and I will be interested to see what emerges after consultation. I welcome the end of controlled assessment which is cumbersome to administer, open to abuse and too dependent on learning by heart.

Here is that summary:
  • Removing controlled assessment and course from the six EBacc subjects (though "practical" subjects such as art will retain them)
  • No teacher assessment in these subjects at all: 100% externally marked exams.
  • No separate higher and foundation tier papers - everyone sits exams with all level questions included.
  • One board for each EBacc subject - awarded by tender - the most ambitious courses to be awarded the franchise.
  • New qualifications in EBacc subjects leading to English Bacc Certificates - success in all six subjects  = "A Full Bacc". 
  • The pass grade for English and maths EBC to be higher than grade C at GCSE.
  • Exams to be more rigorous, though more will ultimately "clear the bar" - suggestion that this will be as a result of better teaching.
  • Enhanced provision for lower achievers - a detailed record of successes to be kept by schools.
  • Pupils to be able to extend retakes to 17 or 18 to achieve EBacc.
  • English, maths and sciences will be the first subjects reviewed: EBCs to be introduced by 2015, examined from 2017.
  • Entire suite of GCSEs to go.
  • Replacements for league tables to be examined. These will reflect vocational qualifications as well as academic.
  • Disadvantaged pupil performance to be reflected in tables.
  • A return to separate sciences suggested, though there is an acknowledgement that schools welcome double award.
  • Awarding organisations will have to offer more detail in the information that is made available about students’ achievements, in addition to the overarching grading structure.
  • Qualifications likely to be no longer graded with letters. Not necessarily the same grading structure will be used in each subject.
  • Examinations will require the whole syllabus to be covered, in a range of ways.
  • Students will be expected to demonstrate more independent thinking.
  • Schools may be expected to devote more curriculum time to EBacc subjects than others.
  • Restrictions on use of calculators, periodic tables and historical source materials.
  • Universities to be involved in spec development, as has been suggested at A-level.
  • Lower uptake languages such as Russian may be under threat from the awarding organisation tender process.


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We were delighted to receive a review of The Language Teacher Toolkit from eminent applied linguist Ernesto Macaro from Oxford University. Macaro is a leader in the field of second language acquisition and applied linguistics. His main research interests are teacher-student interaction and language learning strategies pupils can use to improve their progress.

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