AQA GCSE – New Specification

Coursework…urm, I mean, Controlled Assessment is the name of the game in today’s post.Hand_writes

Having had a meeting with our Director of Studies I am now contemplating exactly how, when and where we are going to conduct the controlled assessments that are part of the new specification GCSE in MFL offered by AQA. As a department that has always shied away from coursework, in favour of the writing exam, we find ourselves in an interesting position as to how to meet the requirements of the examination, whilst still ensuring that pupils are challenged and motivated in MFL and without the teaching becoming exam orientated. The reading and listening examinations pose no problem for us, as this is what has always happened, however we now have no choice but to do a written controlled assessment and a spoken controlled assessment. Candidates must have two tasks (in each skill) submitted towards their GCSE and they are allowed to know what they are, before preparing it and then completing the final task in ‘controlled conditions’ with only a task sheet in front of them. On this sheet they are allowed a plan with up to 40 (TL or non-TL) words, no conjugated verbs nor codes. In the writing assessment pupils are allowed a dictionary.

Two ideas came out of our discussion: 1) Do we integrate the controlled assessment into our current internal examination system (January exam & Summer exam)?, or, 2) do we set aside an assessment period towards the end of Year 11 once all pupils have completed the GCSE course?

With the first option we have the potential problem of using external examination results to go towards an internal assessment. Is that right? It currently goes against our school’s coursework policy, but this may be revised in the light of so many subjects now having to complete coursework….urm, I mean controlled assessment. It also means that they can end up doing assessments when their knowledge is not of a high enough level and when they have not finished the course. Naturally, pupils’ ability is higher after a further year of study, so would that make any assessments completed in Year 10 a waste of time?

With the second option we can use tasks in the style of the controlled assessment for internal assessment at the relevant internal assessment periods, preparing them to some extent for what would be expected of them in Year 11. Then, in March/April, pupils can focus solely on completing the 4 tasks set (two for writing, two for speaking) having a complete knowledge bank behind them. The question here would be, what do we do in the mock examination in January? Another speaking and writing task that could go towards the final assessment (adopting the best of 3 approach)?

What would you do? Any other ideas anyone? I would be very interested in hearing from other schools around the UK to find out what you are considering.