Consultation outcome

GCSE English language: assessment of spoken language skills

This consultation has concluded

Download the full outcome

Detail of outcome

  1. Spoken language assessments will be assessed by teachers (although we have made provision for students to be directly assessed by the exam boards where desirable or necessary) using a set of criteria that will be common across all exam boards.
  2. There will be three levels of achievement, ‘Pass’, ‘Merit’ and ‘Distinction’, and one outcome indicating the required standard was not met. This will be called ‘Not Classified’.
  3. A student must meet all of the criteria in relation to a level to be awarded that level. The assessments will not involve the use of marks and marking schemes.
  4. Exam boards will monitor the assessment of spoken language where this is undertaken by teachers by requiring schools to submit audio-visual recordings of a sample of their students.

We are now consulting on proposals for:

  • schools to provide a written statement indicating that they have taken reasonable steps to ensure that their students have undertaken the spoken language assessment
  • all outcomes to be reported on certificates, including ‘Not Classified’
  • the rules and guidance needed to put in place our decisions

Our decisions balance these priorities.

Feedback received

Analysis of Consultation on the Conduct, Marking and Grading of Spoken Language Skills in GCSE English Language

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Detail of feedback received

In general, the responses to this consultation were very mixed, with almost as many of the respondents agreeing with proposals as disagreeing with them. There was one specific point in relation to the consultation which met with a level of disagreement:

Views on whether students who do not take the spoken language assessment, other than because they were given an exemption because of their disability, should have the same outcome on their certificate as a student who attempted the assessment but did not demonstrate the minimum required level of performance. (Question 6)

Respondents raised a number of arguments against reporting non-attempts in the same way as those who attempted but did not demonstrate the minimum required level of performance. They stated that:

  • those who attempt the assessment should gain more recognition than those who did not
  • the proposed course of action would not make it clear whether the student took part in the assessment or not to employers and colleges - this will only encourage schools not to enter their students for the assessment, thereby devaluing it and depriving their students of learning opportunities
  • employers should be able to see who failed because they did not have the necessary skills, and who failed because they simply did not take the assessment
  • it may not be the student’s choice not to take the assessment and it would be unfair to penalise them
  • there should be an expectation that all students sit the assessment, and appropriate repercussions should they not - this should not merely be aimed at giving the students a ‘fail grade’; there should be a penalty for the centre concerned
  • those who were exempted for other reasons (for example as a result of bereavement) should be afforded the same status as those exempted because of a disability

Original consultation

This consultation ran from to


We're looking for views on how the spoken language assessment should be conducted, marked and graded in the new GCSE.


Consultation description

From September 2015, students in England will start studying for new GCSE English language qualifications, graded 9 to 1. We have already announced that the outcomes of the assessment of students’ speaking skills will not contribute to the 9 to 1 grade for the subject. This grade will be based on students’ performance in their written exams only. Students’ performance in their spoken language assessment will instead be reported in a separate grade. We are now seeking views on how the spoken language assessment should be conducted, marked and graded.