Each awarding body has a different GCSE specification and it is
important that teachers delivering a GCSE course familiarise
themselves fully with the requirements of the particular
specification they are delivering.
Download a table showing the content of
the specifications of each awarding body (doc 41 KB).
New specifications for GCSE are being introduced. Details of these
specifications can be found on the awarding body web pages:
AQA, Edexcel, CCEA, OCR,
WJEC (then search by language
Schemes of work
A scheme of work should be devised to which all staff delivering
the course have access. Many schools use core resources such
as textbooks with accompanying assessment materials and these often
provide a scheme of work which can be adapted to individual
circumstances and the requirements of the specific awarding body.
It is good practice to supplement textbooks with other materials
such as authentic resources, web-based and electronic
Each of the four skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing)
has equal weighting in the linear GCSE. Students should
therefore gain a similar amount of practice in each of the skills.
Well planned GCSE lessons should include three or four of the skill
areas as well as a balance of teacher input and independent, pair
and group work.
A GCSE language group may contain students with target grades
ranging from A*-G. This is a demanding situation to manage as it
will be challenging to stretch the most able whilst at the same
time make the work accessible to the less able linguists. If the
group is very large, the head of languages may wish to ask if it is
possible for two groups to be created in order to ensure that
students of all abilities can achieve their full potential.
However, discussions of this nature need to take place before the
timetable is finalised and the cost and staffing implications of
this solution may make this impossible.
Other ways of addressing this issue could be:
1) In-class support from a learning support assistant (hopefully
one who has at least some knowledge of the language being taught).
This person could work with those with the lowest target grades
using differentiated materials provided by the teacher to help them
to access what is being delivered. This will need careful planning
and the teacher may wish to plan with the learning support
2) Support from a foreign language assistant. A foreign language
assistant could offer in-class support as described above. However,
he or she could work on oral skills with small groups of students
inside or outside the classroom.
3) Designing a seating plan whereby weaker linguists are seated
with more able ones so that the more able can offer support to
their peers. This can work well in certain situations but is very
dependent upon the students concerned and their attitudes.
Encouraging independent learning
Independent learning is crucial to ensure that students achieve
their full potential in the GCSE. This is especially important if
the group contains students of a wide range of ability. Encouraging
use of revision materials will give students valuable examination
practice which they may not have time for during lessons. The Topmarks Education website has
some excellent suggested web-based resources.
Some schools have developed excellent resources for students to use
independently. Some good examples are:
Preparing written coursework tasks
It is very important that teachers familiarise themselves fully
with the requirements of their own GCSE specification. Detailed
instructions on the conduct of coursework tasks, the number of
words required, the support and feedback permitted and the
percentage to be carried out in controlled conditions can be found
in each specification.
Links with the target language country
Trips, exchanges and links by email with the target language
country will add a further dimension to the GCSE and improve oral
and written skills and help students to see the purpose of their
Changes to the GCSE
It is vital that heads of languages keep up to date with any
changes to the GCSE, inform their staff of these changes and attend
training if necessary. Visit the QCA webpage for MFL: Projects