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Last update: 27/05/2012


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Consultation on revised level descriptions for MFL

Click here to see the process leading up to the publication of the report.

The QCDA report on the public consultation on proposals for changes to national curriculum level descriptions has been published. Full information and links to downloads can be found at

The excellent news is that QCDA have listened to the clear message from those responding re MFL (212 out of the 499 responses for all subjects!!) and are not proceeding with the proposed changes and are recommending the retention of the 2007 version.

I have summarised some of the key points from the "Report on the level descriptions for subjects" (link on the right-hand side of the QCDA webpage given above) in this document.

Sometimes one can be world-weary about consultations, but this is really good news both in terms of the outcome, and also that the QCDA listened to the so many ML teachers who took the trouble to respond.

Extracts from QCDA report on consultation- Oct 2009

Executive Summary Page 4 -

The proposed changes to MFL received some support. However, the majority of respondents did not support the merging of existing attainment targets and the introduction of a new attainment target for intercultural understanding.

Composition of the response: (p.5)

499 responses to the survey:

41 for citizenship

36 for English

28 for ICT

41 for mathematics

212 for MFL

37 for religious education

104 spread across the remaining seven subjects

1. Overall (p.6-7)

From the consultation survey:

For MFL, most respondents disagreed with the statements. For example, twenty-three per cent said that the level descriptions were appropriate for assessment of secondary MFL, and 17 per cent agreed that the level descriptions would be appropriate for assessment in the primary phase.

From the consultation survey free text responses

The largest number of free text responses was received for MFL. There was overall disagreement with the proposal to merge current attainment targets 1 to 4 into two attainment targets and with the proposal to introduce a new attainment target called 'Intercultural understanding'. Several respondents commented that the development of intercultural understanding could be addressed by many subjects in the curriculum and questioned whether it would be possible to assess this using a range of level descriptions.

2. Subject-specific comments


The majority of respondents did not agree with the proposal to combine the four skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing into two attainment targets. There was concern that it would be difficult to assess pupils who achieve different levels in each of the skills, and that teachers would have to assess each skill separately in any case. Concern was also expressed about the lack of cohesion between the proposed level descriptions, the Languages Ladder and GCSE grade descriptions.

There was some support for the proposal to introduce a new attainment target for intercultural understanding. Respondents recognised that the subject offered a particularly strong context in which to consider similarities and differences between cultures and how they interrelate. However, respondents generally disagreed with the proposed level descriptions for intercultural understanding. It was argued that intercultural understanding is developed through many areas of the curriculum and that it would be inappropriate to give the impression that it is associated uniquely with MFL. Doubt was expressed about the feasibility of assessing intercultural understanding using a system of levels and about how assessment could be reliably standardised across schools. Concerns also focused on whether assessing intercultural understanding might lead to an overemphasis on the use of English within modern language teaching and the temptation to report increased subject attainment by over-generous assessment of this attainment target. There was also no consensus on how progression could be described. Most respondents felt that any changes should there be any should not be introduced before 2012.

3. Conclusions

For MFL it is recommended that the 2007 post consultation version of the attainment targets and level descriptions should be retained.