English - New GCSEs could add to workload

26th September 2008 at 01:00
New English GCSEs to be launched within two years could lead to a huge increase in teacher workload, the main teaching association for the subject is warning.The National Association for the Teaching of English (Nate) said changes to coursework could drastically raise marking demands.

New English GCSEs to be launched within two years could lead to a huge increase in teacher workload, the main teaching association for the subject is warning.

The National Association for the Teaching of English (Nate) said changes to coursework could drastically raise marking demands.

Its comments come in a paper written in response to consultation on the new GCSEs, published by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. In June, the QCA proposed a new structure, with choice between exams in English literature and English language, or a third generic English exam emphasising functional language use.

At present, most pupils take GCSEs in both English language and literature. They also complete coursework, but the assignment can count towards both exams. Under the new structure, this will no longer be possible. A pupil taking both the English literature and language courses must carry out separate coursework tasks.

The paper said: "Given that pupils who are entering both must complete different tasks, even if the same text is being studied in both fields, there seems to be the potential for a huge increase in the assessment workload for teachers."

Under the new arrangements, teachers would have to mark both assignments, plus advise pupils on how to improve their work.

This may be offset slightly by the fact that some are likely to take only the single English GCSE. However, this also comes with a hefty element of coursework, called "controlled assessment", which will count towards 60 per cent of the marks.

The paper also repeats Nate's warning, first voiced in The TES three months ago (June 27), that the changes could turn English literature into an elitist subject.

The demands of the new literature GCSE, where pupils will have to study at least six texts, appear to be significantly higher than the present version, it says.

This means that schools, under league table pressures, could focus on the more rudimentary English qualification.

Nate welcomed some aspects of the new courses, including a greater focus on speaking and listening in English language.

www.nate.org.ukwww.qca.org.uk.

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