Saturday 28 October 2023

Comments on posts: apologies from me!

 May I apologise to people who have kindly left comments on posts over the past nine years and who have not been acknowledged!  I was playing on the computer this morning an (re)discovered the 'comments' tab.  I think I have now 'approved' ones which seem to be non-spam!  Thank you for taking the time to write!  

Friday 27 October 2023

GCSE 2024 French: Formative assessment grids

As an Association for Learning Languages Volunteer, I have recently written an article about the new GCSE 2024 and included implications for our teaching.  In that article I suggested preparing formative assessment criteria and promised to share them here.


I have prepared formative assessment grids to accompany the new GCSE 24 for AQA and Edexcel at Foundation and Higher along the lines of ones I have done for the current specification.

Why have done this and shared them?!

Well ....

  • This has helped me to get my head around the differences and will help for some forthcoming sessions I am doing with some schools and at the Language Show talk
  • They could inform the way you might adapt current KS3 internal assessment criteria. My next task is to put together composite grids for each of the skills which could be used in mixed ability settings. (Watch this space!).
I hope this document is of help to someone - they took a long time do! Any kindly worded suggestions and corrections are welcome! (Every time I check I find a mistake!) On Twitter I am  @HelenMyers 

It would also be great if you could join ALL if you are not already a member!

Thank you!

I have added them as numbers 9-12 on this blogpost which I am using as my 'GCSE Home page'.

I know, I must sort out a better system for sharing! I am meaning to set up a Google site .. and I shall do this one day!

Monday 21 August 2023

Grade boundaries in AL French German and Spanish June 2023

 This post about grade boundaries is in the context of Ofqual’s decision to return to 2019 grading in 2023.

There has been discussion on social media about the grade boundaries in AL Fr, Gn and Sp, and so David Blow, ALL Fellow, who has done much statistical analysis for the ML community has prepared the description below and this spreadsheet. (Stored on my Google Drive).

There is often much confusion in the media about grade boundaries and standards and the number of grades awarded, and how “comparable outcomes” works in practice to ensure that there is consistency from one year to the next in each subject.  It should be normal for there to be variations from year to year in grade boundaries to reflect the increase or decrease in difficulty of particular exam papers depending on the precise questions which happen to have been set that year.  It is important to stress that this is nothing to do with “severe grading”.  The latter is whereby in subjects such GCSE ML, systematically, arising from a historical anomaly, students on average get half a grade lower in their GCSE ML compared with their other EBacc subjects, leading to a false perception that they are not as good at ML as other subjects.  This is explained more fully on the ALL London site here.

2023 saw the return to "normal" i.e. pre-pandemic grading at both AL and GCSE.

 Ofqual on grade boundaries

Ofqual has said: “Exam boards have set grade boundaries this summer based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative evidence. As in previous years when exams took place, there has been an important role for examiner judgement in reviewing the quality of students’ work.

 Grade boundaries typically change each exam series to reflect any differences in the difficulty of the assessments. This means that some grade boundaries are lower than 2019, while others are higher. The approach to grading this summer has protection built into the grading process so, irrespective of the grade boundaries, students can be confident that the disruption they have faced has been taken into account.”

 Situation in AL Fr, Gn, Sp

In all three subjects, there was a higher percentage of "top" (A* & A) grades awarded in 2023 than 2019.  The FFT Datalab analysis

on the second page as a graphic shows for all subjects how the percentage of top grades has varied since 2019, and how they have all returned close to 2019.

I've produced a spreadsheet where I've drawn together the relevant information from AQA, Edexcel and JCQ websites regarding the A-level exams in French, German and Spanish.  You'll see from the figures in the spreadsheet just how complex the situation is.

The spreadsheet can be downloaded here

Screenshots from each tab are pasted below the commentary for each one.

 tab - "JCQ nos" - this gives the cumulative percentages for each grade in French, German and Spanish. You can see that for all the subjects, there was a higher percentage of "top" (A* & A) grades awarded in 2023 than 2019.    Therefore if the top grade boundaries had been lower, then there would have been additional top grades which would have put Fr, Gn, Sp out of line with other subjects.

 tab - "Edexcel" - this gives the grade boundaries for Fr, Gn Sp and the notional component boundaries. You can see that although the percentages getting top grades in each subject are all just up from 2019, there are marked variations in the grade boundary movements between the subjects, with French having significant movement upwards, and German and Spanish also going up but by less.  It also highlights that it is Paper 1 in French which has seen the biggest increase.

 tab - "AQA" - this gives the grade boundaries for Fr, Gn Sp and the notional component boundaries. Note the way AQA give both raw marks and notional component scores in italics and smaller font.  In AQA, the top grade boundaries in French have risen a little and C downards have dropped; German sees a big swing in both directions, and Spanish rises for most grades.



Saturday 15 July 2023

GCSE 2024 FGS Update

 Please follow this  link to this post for new and updated content relating to the new GCSE 2024

I've spent ages comparing 2016+2024 GCSE French German and Spanish specs + specifically AQA and Edexcel French SAMs. My updated blogpost (please follow link) has links to docs which may help people-including very informal, unrefined YouTube videos! (If you watch them, I recommend setting the speed to at least x1.5!) .  As always, please tell me if I have to remove / edit / add anything. My main recommendations: don't panic, take your time, and seriously consider what (if anything) you need to change for KS3. Schools are still bound to deliver the National Curriculum or a similarly ambitious curriculum for KS3.

There are some helpful aspects from the perspective of the pupil experience in the new GCSE assessment:
- comprehension questions in English + speaking and writing tasks set in English (so valid + reliable results and more authentic tasks)
defined grammatical elements (so, not blanket terms such as 'irregular verbs' - the irregularities are defined);
no surprise words (just such a scandal that exam boards were forced to select from such an unrepresentative corpus of so-called High Frequency words, despite complaints from an extremely wide range of professional associations and many teachers)
- a continuation of being able to talk and write about their OWN experience with equal credit for words outside the list. (At least that battle was won, thanks to overwhelming response to the consultation).

As ever, one of the dilemmas for teachers is that what might be an 'easier' exam nevertheless, because of comparable outcomes, needs to have similar grades and, as a result, there can be clustering of marks/lack of discrimination. However, something like the comprehension questions in English, does make it a more valid test.

Friday 7 July 2023

Up-date to GCSE French 2024 support documents.

 Thanks to AQA for spotting some errors in my comparison documents (At-a-glance and detailed).

I have updated them and posted links within my blogpost here.

I have also included a draft overview of verbs required for AQA + Edexcel, an itemised grammar list.

Friday 16 June 2023

GCSE FGS 2024 Specification Comparison - latest versions

Up-dated Saturday 11th November 2023 

For each specification since 2008, I have carried out an objective detailed analysis comparing the Awarding Organisations and people have told me that this has been helpful.

While I reorganise my website, I will try to use this blogpost as a home for links to my latest analyses relating to the new GCSE 2024 specification which I will store in my Google Drive as pdfs or Google docs.

Devising high-stakes, summative assessments for very large-scale testing is a skill, and the process of analysing approaches has taught me a great deal about the elements needed for such testing which may not be those we use in a formative, teaching context.  

I think that the AOs have done a superb job in producing these specifications, responding to changes which they did not initiate and about which they were hardly consulted.  

Two of the three AOs have been accredited for French by Ofqual, and I think that the result of the accreditation process has been to make tasks and their criteria more valid, reliable, transparent and inclusive.  Eduqas is awaiting accreditation for French.  The official timeline expects German and Spanish specifications to be accredited by the Summer term.  You can then use the Autumn term to make your decision in preparation for the Year 9 Options process.

I hope this document is of help to someone, if only as a starting point for asking questions.  Any kindly worded suggestions and corrections welcome! (Every time I check I find a mistake!) On Twitter I am  @HelenMyers 

It would also be great if you could join ALL if you are not already a member!

Here is a list of documents which relate to the new GCSE 2024.  They are stored in my Google Drive. They are under regular review, and when I edit a document, I upload it again and it has a new link. 

LATEST VERSION: Up-dated Saturday 11th November 2023  

  1. Link to 'At a Glance' comparison (word) (Revised 7/11/23)
  2. Link to detailed specification comparison (V12 - updated 15/7/2023)
  3. Link to Verb analysis - which verbs needed, anchor verbs + those which pattern them (word)
  4. Link to Grammar - itemised to facilitate review (spreadsheet)
  5. Link to document detailing YouTube video Playlist. (new 15/7/23)
  6. Link to Presentation for Teachmeet Icons, Manchester Saturday 7th October 2023 (New 7/10/23)
  7. Link to ALL London webinar page (with links to YouTube video, pdf of presentation, chat etc) (New 26/10/23)
  8. Link to spreadsheet comparing defined vocabulary of AQA and Edexcel.  Use tab 'comb sort'.  NB - this is work in progress- we plan to refine it!  But it may be that others have already done a better version, in which case I will pause! Credit to David Blow for his spreadsheet skills!  (Revised 8/11/23)  Vocabulary spreadsheet key 
  9. Link to AQA GCSE 2024 Foundation Formative Criteria for Dictation, Speaking and Writing  (Revised 7/11/23)
  10. Link to AQA GCSE 2024 HigherFormative Criteria for Dictation, Speaking and Writing (Revised 7/11/23)
  11. Link to Edexcel GCSE 2024 Foundation Formative Criteria for Dictation, Speaking and Writing (Revised 7/11/23)
  12. Link to Edexcel GCSE 2024 Higher Formative Criteria for Dictation, Speaking and Writing (Revised 7/11/23)
  13. Verbs and tenses revision course (reference for learners, links to Flippity games + classroom routine dialogues) (New 8/11/23)
  14. Link to Presentation for Ely schools 9th November 2023 (458 slides!!!)  (New 11/11/23)
  15. Link to Presentation at Language Show 11th November 2023 (180 slides) (New 11/11/23)
Added 27/10/23:  assessment grids with criteria for dictation, speaking and writing exams for both boards which you may find useful for adapting to your internal assessments.
Revised 7/11/23: At a glance includes Eduqas draft 2.  Assessment grids now include Translation onto English grids.
Revised 8/11/23: Vocab spreadsheet
Added 8/11/23: Vocab spreadsheet key
Added 8/11/23: Verbs and tenses revision course, including Flippity games (More Flippity games + Associated 'Classroom routines' to be completed)

Friday 9 June 2023

Analysis of GCSE French 2024 Specifications June 2023

AQA and Pearson Edexcel GCSE French 2024 specifications have been accredited.  Eduqas has not yet been accredited.  It seems that there has been a very thorough accreditation process, and although there are some curious anomalies (for example a discrepancy between which AO the Role Play belongs to ) on the whole, the result of those accredited promises a transparent exam.  In particular it is helpful to have more clarification of terms used and more exemplification of mark schemes.  

I am starting to up-date the GCSE specification comparison which I prepared for the 3 drafts.  It will take time!  (Always longer than I think it will!).  Meanwhile, here is an 'at-a-glance' comparison of the accredited AQA , the accredited Edexcel, and the draft Eduqas.  There may be errors.  I will update them here.

It can be downloaded here.

DRAFT – TO BE CHECKED  - GCSE specifications comparison ‘at a glance’

 Grammar: all have the same requirements, but may choose different illustrations for some features, and different layout.

Vocabulary: all have  same constraint (85% of most frequent top 2,000 words, 30 multi word phrases + 20 cultural items)

Assessment Objectives : all the same, but have distributed weightings differently.



AQA  - Final Link

Edexcel- Final Link

Eduqas - Draft LInk


Theme 1: People and lifestyle

Topic 1: Identity and relationships with others

Topic 2: Healthy living and lifestyle

Topic 3: Education and work


Theme 2: Popular culture

• Topic 1: Free-time activities

Topic 2: Customs, festivals and celebrations

• Topic 3: Celebrity culture


Theme 3: Communication and the world around us

Topic 1: Travel and tourism, including places of interest

• Topic 2: Media and technology

• Topic 3: The environment and where people live

1.        My personal world

2.        Lifestyle and wellbeing

3.        My neighbourhood

4.        Media and technology

5.        Studying and my future

6.        Travel and tourism


Possible subjects within any of the contexts:

•family •friends •relationships

•equality •physical well-being

•mental well-being •food and drink •sports •places in town

•shopping •transport  •the natural world  •environmental issues •social media and gaming 

•future opportunities (e.g. work, travel)  •school •music TV and film •accommodation  •tourist attractions

1.         Identity: for example, personal attributes, cultural background, languages spoken and learning, national, racial, gender stereotypes, family, friends, relationships

2.         Everydaylife:for example, education, school life, routines, activities, sport, being healthy/unhealthy, entertainment, social media

3.         My future :for example, future plans (work, education, aspirations),role models

4.         Exploring : for example, places and people, travel, including geography, customs and traditions, festivals, famous lives, historical stories

5.         Global matters :for example, the natural world, environment/climate change, attitudes, inequalities, poverty, prejudice, war/peace, citizenship


Listening (incl dictation)

‘Paper 1’

F: 35 mins 40 marks (32+8) NB – scaled up to 50

H: 45 mins 50 marks (40 + 10)


5 mins reading time at start, 2 mins checking time at end

‘Paper 2’

F:45 mins H: 60 minutes

50 marks


5 minutes reading time

‘Component 2’

F: 35 mins H: 45 mins

50 marks



‘Paper 2’

NEA - F: 7-9 mins - H: 10-12 mins - 50 marks - 25%

‘Paper 1’

NEA - F: 7-9 mins - H: 10-12 mins - 50 marks - 25%

‘Component 1’

NEA - F: 7-9 mins - H: 10-12 mins - 50 marks - 25%

Speaking Role play

F+H 10 marks, 1.5 mins

F+H: 10 marks recommend 1-1.5 minutes

F+H: 10 marks 1-1.5 minutes

Speaking Read aloud + unseen questions

F+H 5 + 10  = 15 marks

F: min 35 words, 2.5mins

H: min 50 words, 3.5 mins

4 unseen questions


8+4 = 12 marks

2 unseen questions =4

F: 1.5-2 minutes

H: 2- 2.5 minutes

F+H 15 marks

Read aloud Up to 1 minute

Unprepared conversation 1-1.5 minutes

3 unseen questions

Speaking – visual stimuli

F+H 1x photo card with 2 photos 5+15+5 = 25 marks [

F: 4-5 mins H: 6-7 mins

No compulsory questions

F+H 28 [12 + 16] 28 marks

1 photo card (choice from 2 photos)

2 compulsory questions + 1 compulsory subject opening

F: 1.5-2 + 3-3.5 = 4.5-5.5 mins

H: 2-2.5 + 5-5.5 = 7-8 minutes

F+H 25 marks

Sequence of 4 photos

4-5 minutes

4 Compulsory questions (scripted paraphrase if needed – but penalised if used too much)

Reading incl dictation

‘Paper 3’

F: 45 mins

H: 1 hour   50 marks [40 + 10], 25%

‘Paper 3’

F: 45 mins H: 60 mins

50 marks (40 + 10) 25%

‘Component 3, Section A’ (Part of 2-hour paper)

Section A = 50 marks (44+6), 25%


Writing (incl translation)

F: 1 hour 10 mins

H: 1 hour 15.  50 marks (40 + 10)25%

F:  1 hr 15 mins 50 marks

H: 1 hr 20 min 50 marks 25%

‘Component 3, Section B’ (Part of 2-hour paper)

Section B= 50 marks (40+10), 25%


‘Paper 4’

F: 4 tasks + translation

Photo prompt – 5 statements (10)

5 bullet point prompt – 50 words (5+ 5 = 10)

Grammar m/c - 5

Translation (5+5 = 10)

3 bullet point prompt – 90 words (choice of 2) (10 + 5 = 15)

H: 3 tasks + translation

Translation (10)

3 bullet point prompt – 90 words (choice of 2) (10 + 5 = 15)

2 bullet point question – 150 words (choice of 2) (15 + 10 = 25)


‘Paper 4’

F: 3 tasks + translation

Photo prompt – 4 statements (8)

3 BP prompt – formal context - 40-50 words (choose 1 of 2) (9 + 5 = 14)

4 BP prompt –informal context - 80-90 words (choice of 2) (AO1 13 + AO3 5 = 18]

Translation 5 sentences [6+4 = 10]

H: 2 tasks + translation

4 bullet point prompt – informal context  80-90 words (choice of 2) (13 + 5 = 18]

4 bullet point question – formal context - 130-150 words (choice of 2) (17 + 5 = 22]

Translation (6+4=10)

‘Component 3, Section B’

F: 3 tasks + translation

En word prompt – 5 sentences (8)

3 BP  - 60-80 words (12)

Open ended with written French prompt (20)

Translation (10)

H: 2 tasks + translation

Open ended with written French prompt (20)

3BP – 150-170 words (15+5 = 20)

Translation (10)