ALL London branch   


Last update: 27/05/2012


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Curriculum 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.


Accreditation.  What are the different options worth?


Every Child Matters



How can I promote GCSE?

How has the GCSE changed since 1988?

How can I contribute to the GCSE draft criteria consultation June 2007?




What is the historical context of the current ML situation?



KS3: MFL Programme of Study: how has it changed?

KS4 Curriculum: What is the statutory position of languages?

KS4 Accreditation: what are they all worth?



The Secondary Curriculum Review 


Timetabling for languages



Accreditation: what are the different qualifications worth? (March 2009)

As performance tables continue to define the 'worth' of a school (whether we like it or not!) schools are increasingly interested in the 'points' which qualifications attract, and this is not always straightforward.

Click here to download a document which gives information about the qualifications most commonly considered for KS4.



Every Child Matters

Dear all

As part of preparation for our looming ofsted inpsection we have been asked to draft a one sided page that describes how we cater for the every child matters agenda in languages. Has anyone any ideas or done anything similar? Can anyone help ? I've only just learnt what the 5 headings are let alone what they represent?


Just a few ideas ..


I think this is more of a responsibility at the organisational level of schools working with multiagencies to make sure pupils don't slip through the net and to make sure of a proactive approach rather than a reactive one...


But if you have to do this ...!


Perhaps a statement to say that you support the whole-school approach to the agenda (whatever that may be) by taking note of information given about pupils and responding to requests for action ..... and give examples of practice under each of the headings


Perhaps a few examples about how your approach to curriculum, teaching and learning, assessment, evaluation and extra curricular aspects (perhaps use those headings?)  supports the outcomes: (esp examples for looked after children, SEN, pregnant, out of school) e.g. inclusion in trips, differentiation in the classroom, consideration of circumstances when choosing topics / asking personal questions, setting work for pupils out of school, involving parents, involving pupils in discussing what is best for them


All the best for the inspection! 


How can I contribute to the GCSE draft criteria consultation June 2007?

We have produced Guidelines and a commentary on the on-line questionnaire here.  These can be downloaded directly here.

Link to the 'home' page of the consultation:

Link to the draft GCSE qualification criteria (i.e. the general criteria covering all subjects):

Link to the modern foreign languages draft criteria: (which currently has everything except the grade descriptors I think)

Link to the on-line questionnaire for consultation:

(I have copied this into a word document so that I can share thoughts / reflect at leisure before committing anything!!!) I'm not too confident about on-line work (always worried things may get lost / crash) so I tend to prepare it in a word doc first then copy and paste in to the online version. I suppose if others did this, this would be a practical way of sharing ideas amongst us all.

Click here to download the word document.

The GCSE draft criteria are open for consultation, and points 17, 18 and 19 seem to be related to the issue of controlled assessment:

point 17 - balance external/internal assessment 75%/25%

point 18 - specifications must show how controlled assessment will be reliable and fair 

point 19 - under the heading 'controlled assessment', says use of dictionaries not permitted in any external assessment [I'm a bit confused about the placing of this point ...]

Following discussion at the ALL Members' Meeting yesterday, I thought it may be helpful to draw attention to the other documents relating to controlled assessments which are due to be included in the new GCSE specifications (taught Sep 2009, first tested June 2011).

These are (a) regulatory views and (b) independent recommendations regarding the nature of controls needed.

The 'home page' for this area is

The regulatory views (June 2007) can be downloaded from:

The recommendations (March 2007) are here:

HEM June 2007


How can I promote GCSE?

I have just put together a Powerpoint for my 2nd lesson with Year 10 tomorrow when I give an overview of the course. It's based on the Edexcel course (which I will be following for the first time) + our own school admin procedures, but may be useful for others to adapt.It's downloadable from the London ALL site and is too big to send as an attachment I think. Although prepared with some French examples, could be very easily adapted for other languages.

HEM 10.09.06.

How has the GCSE changed 1988 - 2006?

Here's a link to the final draft of an article which I wrote outlining a teacher perspective on changes made to the GCSE since its introduction in 1988.  

HEM January 2006


What is the historical context of the current ML situation?

Here's a link to a document which Helen Myers prepared prior to an Arion Study Visit in September 2004 where she had to give a presentation to other EU teachers about the situation of ML.



KS3: MFL Programme of Study: how has it changed?


Click here to download an extremely rough comparison (full of mistakes!).  You can draw lines form one side to the other to show wher ethe simillarities / differences are.  I did not have time to do this electronically, but it can be done!


Here's a summary in repsonse to a question on the TES forum:

The idea is that the new curriculum reduces content and allows for more collaboration across departments... I think that the challenge is to 'break down' traditional subject barriers if this will give the pupils a more meaningful, coherent and engaging experience. There are some very interesting examples given in the documents.

There will be training 'rolled out' before March from var
ious organisations (e.g. ALL is leading the 'curriculum ideas' side of things). From what I've seen it looks as if there is a sensible approach - 'disciplined innovation'.

When I looked, in summary, I felt that the requirements were very similar but worded in current 'terminology'.. emphasis on process & concepts [making the pupils 'successful learners'] rather than knowledge, understanding and skills .. ..

...but when you look at what the outcomes are (i.e. descriptors for the NC levels), they are much the same. Main change in NC levels = level 6 does not explicitly require 3 tenses. There was no specified 'content' for us anyway - all the complaints about 'boring topics' etc are nothing to do with KS3 .. the only words to do with content are 'opinions'.

My own view at the moment is that we need to be involved and positive .. but we need to ensure that we don't 'lose out' or sacrifice the essential curriculum time we need as specialists to prepare pupils for external examinations where knowledge and skills are still explicit assessment objectives (rather than concepts and processes).

Successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens still have to take exams when they are 16. When the GCSE criteria and specifications are confirmed and explicit, I would feel more confident about planning changes.


And subsequently:



My point is that it is reasonable and sensible to keep your eye on how pupils will be 'assessed' (and the measure by which we as professionals are 'judged') when you are designing your curriculum.

The NC levels have not changed .. so the outcome in terms of language skills is the same.

The GCSE criteria which Sep Y7s will meet in May 2013 will be the new criteria (-first taught in 2009, first tested in 2011)


I've put a very very rough comparison I did on the ALL London website .. and included these responses ..

but here's a summary:

Key aspects:

* Curriculum aims - this was summarised in the NC foreword to ALL subjects before .. now it is more obviously placed at the top of each subject section.. places the subject within the overall curriculum - 'successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens' .. ie. the Every Child Matters agenda [However, many schools will have already made cross curricular references to PSE /Citizenship /Learning skills etc]

* Importance of languages - same - though cultural aspects and creative stressed. (But that's not new).

* 1) Key concepts

1.1 - linguistic competence = [old] developing language skills

1.2 Knowledge about language = [old] acquiring knowledge and understanding of target language

1.3 Creativity = drawn from old *acquiring K&U (grammar / range) + *language learning skills (use of ref materials + independence)+ *Breadth of study (use TL creatively and imaginatively)

1.4 Intercultural understanding = Developing cultural awareness

* 2. Key Processes

2.1 Developing language learning strategies = developing language learning skills

2.2 Developing language skills = developing language skills

* 3 Range and content = Breadth of study (leaves out specific examples of using target language in the classroom AND - probably the most significant difference to which our attention will be drawn as symbolising the new 'freedom' ... , does NOT mention point (i) .. 'variety of contexts including everyday activities, personal and social life, the world around us, the world of work and the international world.)

* 4. Curriculum opportunities = Learning across the national curriculum (SMSC, Key Skills, other aspects]+ Breadth of study

Much more explicit emphais and guidance on Personal development across the curriculum ..attitudes, knowledge and abiolities set out based on ECM agenda: (SHEEP!)

Stay Safe
Enjoy & achieve
Economic well-being
Positive contribution

NC levels: main difference = in Speaking and writing, three tenses no longer explicit for level 6.


The fact that there is a deliberate common terminology across all subjects is meant to make it easier to find the links and make for a more coherent enjoyable experience. Subjects can work together on reinforcing the same concepts and processes. There are lots of very interesting case studies / appendices.

So in conclusion (if you've got this far!!!) .. this is not something you should be doing in isolation .. the whole point is for the school to take a fresh look at the curriculum as a whole.

The Association for Language Learning with Kathy Wicksteed as Natinal Regional Coordinator will be running conferences over the next few months to share ideas, and there will be videos etc on the website .. I'll publicise these on this forum when they're ready.

CILT and SSAT will also be doing things .. so I'm sure that you will be getting a variety of views / advice / support on all this!

There is a 6th INSET day this year for secondaries .. presumably in recognition for all this extra planning.

Bonne chance!


KS4 Languages: What is the statutory position?


Download the letter sent from Jacqui Smith to Headteachers in January 2006 outlining the need for a benchmark.


Download the 10 questions and answers for school leaders explaining the position (2007)



The Secondary Curriculum Review

Where can I download a copy of this so that I can read it at leisure? (Helen)

You can't!  It was designed to be web based.  HOWEVER, our very own Treasurer, Monna, has very kindly spent time pasting the general sections and the MFL specific sections into a word document which you can download here.  Thanks Monna!

Timetabling for languages

My timetable is being changed mid-year as a result of staff leaving.  I will now have to teach a student  in a block of 2 consecutive lessons, rather than one on Monday and one on Tuesday.  How can I persuade management that this is not a good idea?


This may sound obvious, but it might be worth finding out what the consequences are if this change does not take place .. presumably as a result of having to re-jig the timetable (a nightmare mid-year, particularly when you have part-timers who have fixed days and cannot change them) the student will lose out on another subject which has had to be re-scheduled, or you will miss / have to share teaching another class? 

If the impact is on your own timetable e.g. sharing classes, having to do 'twilight sessions', it may be that you suggest that you would prefer this to having to change his timetable?
If there really isn't any option, this would certainly be a good case for requesting increased access to a variety of resources and means of access to 'input' in order to address the problem e.g. individual laptop / computer programs / subscription to online resources / photocopying / books / revision guides
As far as a justification for a 'spread' of language learning, if there really is a chance of change, some reasons which come to mind ..
- language is taught in 'bite sizes' ...each 'input' is short and intense, each 'output / practice' is relatively short and intense
- learners need to keep 're-visiting' language to help secure it in short, mid and long term memory - this is best done spread over several sessions rather than all in one session
..... this is different from science / practical subject where pupils actually benefit from having a longer time to observe / carry out the practical' (input) then learn from it
- language learning  is much more intense than other subject areas (especially on a one to one) and dependent on teacher input and teacher/student interaction (as the teacher gives the 'model')
....whereas science is much more naturally broken up into practical / independent work / teacher, pupil interaction