New assessments for GCSE French, German and Spanish

Changes to how GCSEs in French, German and Spanish will be assessed in future have been confirmed by Ofqual.

The changes are needed because the government is changing how students will be taught and assessed in these subjects from 2024 - to help young people develop their language skills for life and work.

The Department for Education’s revisions to the subjects’ content will ensure students understand what vocabulary and grammar skills will be needed in their exams.

Ofqual consulted last year on its proposals for the assessment of these revised qualifications, at the same time as the DfE consulted on its draft changes, and is publishing the outcome of the consultation today. The DfE has also published its final subject content revisions.

The changes are due to come into effect for first teaching from September 2024, with first assessments in 2026.

Ofqual also confirms that the current use of tiered assessments and non-exam assessment (NEA) will continue.

Further draft proposals for the more detailed assessment requirements - in the Subject Level Conditions and Guidance - will go to public consultation in due course.

The changes to the language GCSEs include being assessed on the basis of 1,200 ‘word families’ at foundation tier GCSE and 1,700 ‘word families’ in higher tier GCSE. An example of a word family could be ‘manage’, ‘managed’ and ‘manages’.

Exam boards will select topics and themes to inform the selection of key vocabulary, as opposed being prescribed in the subject content.

At least 85 per cent of the ‘word families’ will be selected from the 2,000 most frequently occurring words in a language to make sure students have a good knowledge of the most common words.

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