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Edexcel for Spanish - musings after a discussion with the Chief Examiner

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by bonsait09, Feb 18, 2012.

  1. Hi all,
    I know that a lot of us Spanish teachers had real issues with Edexcel last summer, particularly with the unhelpful grade boundaries in comparison with the other languages.
    Our German Dept has made the brave decision to move across to AQA (more as a result of the A level results last year and the grade boundaries which worked against the higher candidates) and we will watch closely to make the decision on moving Spanish next year.
    I wondered - of those of you who had the issues with Edexcel, how many of you have changed Exam Board?
    We've had some of our work sent back (the writing assessments) - without a cover note, as usual - and would you believe, we've even received work from other centres too?! This happened in French and Spanish so far, and we haven't had all of our candidates' work back, so we can only assume they've gone to other centres.
    I feel that Edexcel really hasn't got the faintest idea. We had a meeting with the Chief Examiner for Spanish and specifically requested that we hear samples of A* speaking assessments - he played three, only one of which wasn't a native speaker. I was miffed that my marking would have been identical and still my top candidates had not been graded A*.
    In response to the grade boundaries issue, he clearly stated that the individual language chief examiners within Edexcel had made recommendations for grade boundaries which were then "considered" by the in-house statisticians who changed them. He was also frustrated - but felt his hands were tied against the all-knowing statisticians. However, we know that the different grade boundaries (for different languages) were not applied for speaking/listening assessments outside Edexcel.
    Anyway, thought I'd throw that one out there and see what you reckoned.[​IMG]
  2. We are talking of going from AQA to Edexcel! The new AQA Certificate, if it gets accredited soon, might keep us with them, but their GCSE was a mess last summer - and almost everyone I spoke to at the feedback meetings agreed. It's worth looking at the other threads - the one about AQA is still going strong and it started in August.
    The point about the statisticians is an interesting one. Despite the dramatic drop in the numbers being entered for GCSE languages (I'm told), and assuming this would mostly be because the weaker linguists were not being put into the exam, nevertheless OFQUAL capped the pass rate at only just above that of the previous year. This magic figure was based on how the cohort performed in their KS2 assessments in Maths, English and Science. If the introduction of the Ebacc means more candidates are entered, and the pass rate again remains almost the same, it will mean that the numbers passing will go up. This is outside the exam boards' control.
    Another point related to this is that private schools didn't do the KS2 assessments, yet of course did do the GCSEs. This would skew the situation further for state schools.
    Oh dear - I do hope this doesn't come across as a lecture, and I hope my interpretation is correct. I think it's correct to say we are all victims of statistics, although it seems the Edexcel Spanish was particularly badly hit.
  3. It certainly doesn't come across as a lecture - it's most helpful!
    We were very concerned by the cohort referencing, in fact. But whatever about that, the fact that (as you pointed out), the Spanish GCSE students' results reflected so poorly alongside those of the other languages may still serve as our motivation in migrating across.
    I've befriended a lot of others in a similar situation with Edexcel. I would not recommend them but am just hoping that they will manage to bring together the languages so that those (especially dual linguists) doing Spanish won't be unfairly graded compared to the French and German.
    I still find it so disconcerting that my single E-indicator student is unlikely to pass because only now has he managed to get an E in a speaking assessment but still needs to get another one. And that's speaking - I cannot get him to pass a writing assessment!!! Some of the "withdrawals" of weaker candidates must be down to last minute nerves over these students and begging to have them entered for the short course?
    The situation is far from optimistic....
  4. Quite so. In the meantime my department is being ritually flogged by the "leadership" team who will not listen to any pleas in mitigation, and blithely ignore the national picture. Funny how the use of data and stats only ever seems to work against us
  5. Totally agree.
    We're currently being put through the mincer on why students want to drop about this time of year - they're flocking to one of our Deputy Head's offices begging to be allowed to consolidate. Just to avoid having to work for speaking assessments! And then they question us over whether we need to "do so many speaking assessments" when we are doing our third scheduled lot and aiming to send off the best two! SIGH!!!
    Glad, at least that there's similar feelings elsewhere!
    Chin up!
  6. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Isn't it just marvellous? If those lovable young rascals would actually learn something instead of being encouraged by soulless, number crunching deputy heads into thinking that they can have something for nothing, the "students" might just warm to the concept that they could the whole speaking assessment done in a fraction of the time.
  7. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    I meant get the whole speaking ....
    Should really proof-read before hitting send. I do apologise.
  8. annelouisep

    annelouisep New commenter

    we have always used OCR and had great results with it this year, although beware the written elelement more rigourous here - push the grammar. We got 86% A* - C French 77 Spanish and 71 German and we have over 50 of KS4 taking a language to GCSE.
  9. annelouisep

    annelouisep New commenter

    Same problem for us - students want everything on a platter which is why I created the 'how to learn vocab' resource on this site - thought it might help them realise they actually have to work for something. Too much of an X-Factor culture. You know the bit when Simon Cowell asks 'why do you want this?' and 99% reply because they 'deserve it'. Complete lack of understanding about working for your goal in life... but that's another story... Something is going wrong somewhere...
  10. Absolutely. We have had a few students totally freak out at the threshold between the foreign language assistants' offices (where we generally do our speaking assessments) and there are still a couple of students in Year 11 with only one "bankable" speaking assessment. It's a question of literally trying to lure them in there.
    Tricky trying to get them to compete against those who are doing Spanish in more years - we're an upper school and they only do French at middle school, so we have Years 9-11 to get them to GCSE compared to some of those brilliant language schools out there who have a lot more time. It feels as if we're teaching to the exam for Year 11.
    Anyone else fed up of the whole thing?! I love teaching, but boy, oh boy, the admin required for these CAs is just so intense!

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