Friday, 30 April 2021

DfE Proposals for GCSE MFL Subject Content 2021

 

Today I received a publicly available link to the AQA  policy briefing paper on the DfE GCSE MFL Subject content proposals.  Please see link below.

Links

This AQA briefing paper gives a detailed exposition which links closely to the most popular views expressed at the recent ALL Webinar 2 which was held to explore further concerns expressed in ALL Webinar 1.  It is very powerful to have such a paper which has  many academic research references and which is very much in accord with views expressed by many  members through the polls in ALL Webinar 2.

If you feel that your views are similar to many views expressed at the ALL webinar 2  and in the AQA policy briefing paper, then, given the way that the DfE consultation process works, I would suggest that you  should plan to answer the questions in the following way in order to make your points.

 Questions 10 to 16 as a totality – ‘No’  (apart from 14.2 – yes), 

If you have any further comments, then add them into the text which becomes available if you answer no to 10-14.  Note that there is no opportunity to comment on 15 or 16.

 I am suggesting that you treat them as a totality because these questions together are predicated on the implementation of the core DfE proposal to replace a theme-based approach by a high frequency general purpose corpora approach.  [14.2 is a separate question about the requirement to gloss proper names in an assessment].

Questions 17 &18 ‘Yes’ (around setting question in English to test comprehension and give instructions.)

 Removing mixing skills in this way will remove the “double penalty” which invalidates an assessment – i.e. if target language is used to set a question (requiring reading) this results in a mixed skill exercise where failure to perform one skill leads to failure to be able to show what you know, understand and can do in the other skill.

Questions 19 & 20 ‘No’ (where the DfE are specifying the assessment types (19) reading aloud and demonstrating understanding and (20) dictation.)

 These assessment types are then forcing mixed skill testing (potential ‘double penalty’ affecting the validity of the test) and in turn that is forcing Ofqual to move to two mixed skill assessment objectives rather than the 4 separate skills. (All skills can be authentically tested as separate skills.  While mixed skills may arise naturally in the classroom, it is not a valid and fair way to test pupils in a high stakes GCSE examination).

Question 21 ‘Yes’ to (speaking at a moderate pace).

Question 22 ‘No’ to “not specifying it” as a theme, rather than ‘no’ to the “not testing”.

 This is a logically poorly worded question because

 (a)   it begins with the premise that students will continue to learn about the culture , and yet that has been removed as a requirement in the subject content (in 2015 it was a required theme)

and

 (b)   it asks ‘will not be specified or tested’ thus combining two separate points.

 The last sentence in italics says: “therefore, it is proposed that students will continue not to be marked on their cultural knowledge.”  There is general support for the continuation of the current arrangement where students are not tested on the cultural content per se but on the other hand, there was very strong support that a cultural context should be required.

 ‘No’ to “not specifying it” as a theme, rather than ‘no’ to the “not testing”.

 Question 23 (Grammar) ‘No’

 This is such a broad question that it gives no opportunity to comment on detail on the proposals, in particular the proposal  that there is no ‘receptive  only’ grammar at either tier.  Therefore  I would suggest ‘no ‘ and then give your reasons for anything with which you do not agree,

 Question 24 - ‘No’ (General)

 This is another very broad question, so I would suggest you answer ‘no’ and use this opportunity to make a variety of points not covered by the often leading and limited questions.  And that is why in ALL Webinar 2 there was a range of questions to unpick the wider issues.

 I strongly recommend you look at the actual questions posed in the ALL webinar 2 poll – pasted below – especially the equality question and the overall questions about whether there should be a defined word list.

STOP PRESS: Many high profile organisations are calling for a halt to the process / stating that the process should be suspended.  If ypu support this,  writing something along the lines of  'I call upon you to halt the process' should send a powerful message if included in many responses.

 

Ofqual Consultation

 Q.1 (“no”) &2 (comment)  - assessments objectives – (see DfE consultation questions 19&20 above). 

 Mixed objectives have been forced by DfE specifying  the requirement to have reading aloud + comprehension (Q19)  and dictation (Q20)

 Q.3 ,4 &5 - tiering –

3 – strongly agree (to have both Foundation and Higher Tiers)

4 – agree about not splitting the tiering  - sensible to have this generally - split tiering for different parts can be complex issue from a technical perspective - depends on how AOs are set up

5 – comment to make these points

 Q 6 - 8 - NEA

 6 – strongly agree (general principle of testing speaking in NEA)

7 – agree (25%)

8 – comment

- would support keeping NEA for to give speaking at least 25% (spoken responses and interactions), but this is puzzling because the proposed NEA involves mixed skill testing (reading aloud, answer questions on the text) and therefore if the maximum is 25%, speaking cannot  be 25%.

 Question 9: - Yes .  (Students with protected characteristics)

 Impact because the vocabulary list is biased / discriminatory e.g. French and Christian within top 2,000, Muslim, African not within top 2,000.

 Question 10: Are there any additional steps we could take to mitigate any negative impact you have identified would result from our proposals, on students who share a protected characteristic?

 Not really – your hand has been forced by the DfE subject proposals. 

 Question 11 - yes: (potential costs or burdens that we have not identified?)

 Cost of new texts books resources, training .  Burden of planning change at a time when the system is overwhelmed as a result of COVID.

 Question 12: Are there any additional steps we could take to reduce the costs or burdens of our proposals?

 Not really – your hand has been forced by the DfE subject proposals. 

 REFERENCE

ALL WEBINAR 2 POLL QUESITONS


Poll 1/1

Do you agree that there should be a defined word list for listening?

Poll 1/2

Do you agree that there should be a defined word list for reading?

Poll 1/3

Do you agree that there should be a defined word list for writing?

Poll 1/4

Do you agree that there should be a defined word list for speaking?

Poll 2

The proposals state that all vocabulary listed can be tested in all skills, with no scope for ‘receptive only’ words.
If it were essential to retain the principle of words lists, what would you recommend?

All vocabulary should be for all skills

The vocabulary for both listening and reading should be relatively larger than the other 2 skills

The vocabulary for listening should be relatively larger than the other three skills

The vocabulary for reading should be relatively larger than the other three skills

Poll 3/1

The proposals do not propose themes and topics and do not require an AO to provide themes and topics to be examined. Should students know for exams the range of contexts / themes / topic from which they are going to be tested?

Poll 3/2

If students do not know for exams the range of contexts / themes / topic from which they are going to be tested, will the questions be valid and reliable across students from different schools?

Poll 3/3

Should there be agreement between exam boards for a common set of themes so as to promote collaboration, comparison of standards, transferability of textbooks, etc?

Poll 4/1

If it were essential to retain the principle of words lists, in the light of the concerns expressed in Webinar 1 about using tightly controlled highest frequency from general corpora, should alternative ways be explored?

Poll 4/2

Which of the following approaches should be considered instead?

From highest frequency occurrences in a corpus relevant to  16 year olds16 year olds

From themes specified by DfE or exam boards

50% from the highest frequency list with 50% specified to match themes

Not applicable

Poll 5

Do you agree that it avoids "double testing/penalty" by having comprehension questions and  rubrics in English?

Pol 6/1

Do you agree that the DfE should be specifying the pedagogy teachers should be using?

Do you agree that the DfE should be specifying the details of the assessment question types (e.g. reading a passage aloud then being asked questions on it)? 

Do you agree that the DfE should be specifying mixed skills testing? (i.e. Dictation/ Read aloud text and answer questions on the text)?

Poll 7

Do you agree with the mixed skill Assessment Objectives from the Ofqual consultation i.e. AO1 = Understand and respond to spoken language in speaking and in writing (35%) AO2 = Understand and respond to written language in speaking and in writing (45%)

Poll 8

Do you agree that there is a risk of dilution regarding an awareness of the culture of the countries in the proposals?

Do you agree that no longer specifying the use of authentic materials is a risk? 

Do you agree that there is a risk in not specifying that themes should include culture (e.g. customs and festivals)?

Poll 9

Do you agree with the reduction in emphasis on communication and the downgrading of the statement of purpose for learning and using a language? 

Bearing in mind that comparable outcomes means that grading outcomes will remain the same, do you believe that these proposals will increase the take-up of ML at KS4 ? 

Pol 10

The proposals state that all grammar listed can be tested in all skills, with no scope for ‘receptive only’ elements. Do you agree that there should be no ‘receptive only’ elements? 

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