Press release

Assessment arrangements for GCSE English language

Ofqual is announcing how spoken language assessments will be conducted, assessed and graded for the new GCSE in English language.


In September 2015 students will begin studying the new qualifications that will be first awarded in 2017. This GCSE is based on new subject content, including the requirement that students are assessed on their ability to demonstrate their spoken language skills.

We have previously announced that these results will be reported as a separate grade and will not contribute to the 9 to 1 grade for the subject. The 9 to 1 grade will be based on students’ performance in their written exams only.

Today’s announcement follows a public consultation and trials carried out by exam boards. These trials gathered the views of teachers and considered how the arrangements would work in practice. Taking these views into account, we have made changes (for example, to the extent of student recordings required) to support reliable assessment, while also recognising that arrangements must be proportionate and manageable for schools.

Chief Regulator Glenys Stacey comments:

It is so important that young people are able to communicate well, and that their communication skills are assessed fairly. At the same time, any test must be manageable for schools, and I am pleased today to announce the new testing arrangements, designed to be both manageable and fair.

Summary of decisions

  1. 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”.
  2. A student must meet all of the criteria in relation to a level to be awarded that level.
  3. Spoken language assessments may be externally assessed by exam boards and/or internally assessed by teachers, using criteria set by Ofqual.
  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.

View the full consultation outcome and feedback documents.

Further consultation

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

Read and respond to this consultation

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Published 5 June 2015