ALL London branch   


Last update: 27/05/2012


Site Map
Web Links
National ALL

Assessment Solutions!

Click on an area of questioning (grouped alphabetically) and see if your question is there.  If not, e-mail us, and we'll try to put you in touch with someone who can help.

KEY Red = title; Green = question; Blue = answer

Index - click on the title to link to the section.


Severe Grading

Severe grading

How can I try to change the situation of Severe Grading?

December 2006HEM posting to all fora:

Dearing Interim Report – Severe Grading

It’s good to see that the report has picked up the issue of severe grading, and in particular has highlighted it as one of the 20 provisional proposals at the end of the report (number 18)

This is what it says:

“There has been long, sustained argument that the standards for the awards of grades are more demanding than for other subjects, and that this has contributed to the flight from languages, both because of the concern of students to get good grades and the concern of schools to do well in the 5 A* to C achievement and attainment tables. This is a continuing sore point: it is important and we propose that it is resolved. (para 7.27)”

It is encouraging that both the Independent - two paragraphs here:

and the TES have identified the issue within their summary. The TES uses the term ‘tough GCSE grade boundaries’.

At the moment, these are only proposals from Lord Dearing and Lid King and responses are invited by 31st January – follow this link to answer online or download a form:

Clearly, the views of the ‘Language Community’ are very important, and if you believe that severe grading is a significant issue /sore point, then it’s important that you convey this by ticking in the ‘yes’ box next to point 10.


Following a meeting with QCA and exam boards reflecting on the sensitive and complex issues relating to Severe Grading, we prepared a proposal which suggested broadly bringing ML GCSE grading into line with Maths.

The proposal is here: (Then click on 'proposal')

The raison d’être of identifying maths was that issues such as motivation / difficulty etc are often seen as similar between ML and maths and therefore it would be hard for anyone to object to bringing ML in line with maths, recognising that there may be reasons why subjects such as Art and drama may be higher than maths.

I will definitely be adding a comment in the box under point 10 with something the lines of ..

- there is clear evidence which has been accepted by QCA and the exam boards that on average pupils of the same prior attainment can expect to get a grade which is half a grade lower than their average grade.

- the evidence shows that this is particularly stark at the C/D borderline

- this affects pupils’, teachers’, managers’ and parents’ confidence in the languages experience, and hence affects the decisions managers take about the option system and the choices pupils make

- if the issue is resolved, teachers will be able to be more confident in advising pupils to continue with their subject, pupils and parents will be more confident in selecting the subject, knowing that they will not be risking losing out on a grade equivalent to other subjects (especially regarding the lower attainers), and managers will be more confident about guiding pupils towards languages in the option process.


We have given some thought about the process by which an alignment may happen and would be happy to discuss this with anyone who is interested.



Helen Myers, MFL teacher & Assistant Head, The Ashcombe School, Dorking, Surrey