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English Language GCSE Edit Edit

Why is English Language GCSE a problem for external candidates? Edit Edit

English GCSE no longer includes coursework, but it does have a speaking and listening assessment, called the Spoken Language Endorsement ('SLE').

Schools will not normally accept private candidates for this part of the GCSE, although private exam centres may. Further- and Higher-education establishments are generally just as happy with the regular IGCSE. In schools, the speaking assessment is considered an "easy win" for most students, but it is generally more trouble than it is worth to arrange for external candidates.

How can you take the Speaking and Listening? Can you do the GCSE without it? Edit Edit

Thanks to Julie Barker for this detailed explanation, contributed on 3 June 2018. Julie is the head of Faregos Exam Centre, which is a specialist exam centre for home-educated candidates. Faregos is JCQ-approved and is an examination centre for all the main exam boards. Over to Julie:

There is frequent discussion about the availability of GCSE English language to private candidates- this is an explanation of the issues- This is NOT ABOUT IGCSE - where there are no problems at all and any references to speaking and listening components in those syllabuses are to entirely optional (and rarely done) choices.

The new 9-1 GCSEs have a speaking and listening component; "the SLE" -the centre organizes these and videos them; they are marked by the centre and a sample are sent to the exam boards for moderation. They no longer count for any % of the overall mark, but are reported on certificates as Distinction/Merit/Pass and Not Classified. The last grade covers those who fail the speaking and listening and those who don't turn up to sit it. (There is also the possibility of the centre applying to the exam board for an exemption for a student who could not complete it by reason of disability - that will have Exemption recorded instead of a grade for this component)

Originally Ofqual planned to make the SLE compulsory - ie not doing it would mean that the students couldn't pass the written paper;. they later relented. There was then a period where AQA said "no private candidates" so any who did sit this had to be entered as internal candidates- they have recently changed their mind.

So what is the situation?

- it is compulsory for the centre to offer it; but not for the student to sit it.

- however the exam boards make it clear that "Where a candidate misses the scheduled date/time for his/her presentation, the centre must organise an alternative session." (AQA)

and AQA say "The head of centre is required to provide a written declaration to us by a published deadline to confirm that reasonable steps have been taken to ensure that all candidates whom the centre has entered for GCSE English Language haveundertaken the Spoken Language endorsement.

Edexcel say "The SLE is a required element of the qualification. There is no separate entry code for theSLE as this is a linear qualification with a single code covering the 3 papers. Every student must have the opportunity to sit the SLE and the Head of Centre must confirm this in the declaration they submit with the recordings of the sample for SLE. If it ultimately proves impossible for a student to sit the SLE, they should be graded 'NC' and 'Not Classified' will appear on their certificate for the SLE." So - can a home educated student sit the GCSE? If the centre is willing to offer the SLE and video it alongside their own classes there is no problem. However many centres won't want the bother of inviting outside students into the classroom and will say no from the start.

The real problem lies with centres who say yes but who aren't offering the SLE; the head of centre will actually be signing the declaration when they know it isn't true. They may not get detected; however if the candidate is entered as a private candidate this year for example each entry required a separate declaration to the exam board "When private candidates are entered for internally assessed components, we (The Awarding Body) need confirmation from the Examinations Officer that teaching staff at the centre will ensure appropriate supervision, authentication and marking arrangements for all coursework, controlled assessments and non-exam assessment (NEA) components. These are Ofqual and JCQ regulations, I, ....................(Exams Officer) declare we will ensure that the appropriate supervision, authentication and marking for all coursework/controlled assessments/NEA for the candidates and courses stated below:...."

At least one centre local to us withdrew all their private candidates when they got these emails from the exam board - this was after the entry date so these students then had to pay late fees to re-enter at another centre willing to offer the SLE.

Additionally of course a missed SLE will be worded as not classified- the same working as those who failed it!

I hope this is helpful - Julie Barker