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QCA response to Dearing recommendation re: speaking tests

Radio & TV responses prior to publication of the response.

CONTEXT The BBC website and Radio 5 Live report (below) seemed to assume that oral tests were to be 'dropped'.

The response Helen gave aimed to cover the following points:

unfortunately the heading "Language GCSEs 'could drop orals' " has led people to jump to the conclusion that speaking is not going to be assessed!!!  This  was reinforced by reporting such as Helena Wilkinson:

Radio 5 Live Report from Helena Wilkinson, Reporter for Radio 5 Live.

Many negative comments from 'the public' and teachers are being quoted which seem to feel that removing stress from the exam would be a 'backward step'.

Controlled assessment is a new series of guidelines to replace coursework in all subjects, with varying degrees of control, to be proposed by the exam boards when they respond with their specifications in April

1) there was no massive surprise (if you have been following the GCSE specification revision + controlled assessment guidelines developments + Dearing recommendations it's all leading to a suggestion for change) - there has been a process of consultation

2) that we don't yet know the detail of what the QCA/boards will propose, but there will definitely be testing of speaking approx 25%

3) that I think the the stress is primarily in having to fit everything you know into a short, intense and artificial 'slot' which puts both teacher and candidate under stress (25% of your result hinges on 7 minutes to demonstrate speaking skills developed over 5 years)

4) that whatever is proposed will have to be subject to the 'controlled assessment' guidelines and prove to reach standards / be valid and reliable

5) that the opportunities now are for developing tests which really do give candidates the chance to show the full range of what they can do

Sadly, this is a classic example of how misleading short headlines and soundbites can be.

Radio 5 Live interview with Helen Myers 7 am

Radio 5 Live news 8 am

BBC Radio 2, the 10am news.  1:51 - 2:33 Helen Myers (Extract from Radio 5 Live News)

BBC News 24 video also at: then click on video

Update Feb 18th 2007

The BBC Internet page published Jim Knight's response 'Language oral not being ditched'.

Radio York live interview with Helen Myers + Richard Geoghegan, N Yorks Adviser