GCSE Consultation: DfE response published & ISMLA statement

The Government has now published its response to the consultation on proposed changes to MFL GCSE (French, German and Spanish only). You can read it here.  There are some minor changes to the way vocabulary and themes will be specified as a result of consultation feedback, and first examination has been pushed back one year to 2026 (current Year 7 pupils).  The new, official GCSE subject content for MFL is here; the current content which applies until the Year 11 cohort sitting exams in 2025 is here.

Members might be interested to read press statements released by the Association for Language Learning and by ASCL. ISMLA has released the following statement:

  • We regret that the Department of Education did not take up the invitation by subject associations, exam boards and headteacher organisations to collaborate with stakeholders in developing final version of the GCSE content. Now that the reforms have been delayed by a full year, it would have been possible to do so during the course of this Spring. 
  • We note some minor adjustments to the ways in which vocabulary will be specified, which reflect some of the concern voiced by stakeholders, although the full implications of this remain to be seen when Examination Boards and Awarding Bodies publish their specifications. We welcome the inclusion of themes as a means of structuring learning, but remain concerned by the narrow lexical content, the overall balance of the qualification and the incongruity of the stated goals with the specified content. We are also acutely aware that this new GCSE will apply to learners who are currently in Year 7, and who have therefore already begun their secondary languages career.
  • The implications of these reforms remain problematic for lesser taught languages,  including but by no means limited to Chinese, Italian, Arabic and Russian, and we are concerned about the two-tier system which now arises. This risks further erosion to the teaching and learning of these languages, which the most recent Language Trends report showed to be under threat. Moreover, the suitability of the new approach for many of these lesser taught lessons remains untested and unclear. 
  • We will work closely in support of examination boards and other partners in order to ensure that future qualifications do not lead to a demotivating curriculum. It is of paramount importance to us that pupils in our member schools and beyond experience a rich, challenging curriculum which fully reflects the breadth and vitality of our subject area.