GCSE Languages: Supporting you in making tiering decisions for your students

Wednesday 7 Nov 2018

Below you will find some useful information and resources for GCSE Spanish, French and German to support your tiering decisions for 2019.

We know that making the right tiering decisions isn’t always easy, especially for borderline students. Last year, with so many changes, it was more challenging than ever. As a result, this summer we saw more students than we would have liked at risk of not achieving the minimum grade on the Higher tier.

Recognising how complex decisions were in the first year of the new qualifications, Ofqual, together with the awarding bodies, widened the allowed safety net at the bottom of the Higher tier.

We don’t expect Ofqual to repeat these special arrangements in the future, so it’s really important to revisit entry strategies to make sure students more suited to the Foundation tier are not entered for the Higher tier in 2019.

Guidance for choosing tiers of entry

If you had significant numbers of students on the Higher tier who achieved a grade 3 this Summer, we’d encourage you to look in detail at your entries and think about which tier students are entered for in 2019.

It’s likely that many of the students who got a 3 in 2018 should have been entered for the Foundation tier and if they were to be entered for the Higher tier again next year they might be in danger of falling off the bottom of the tier and not getting a grade.

New 9 to 1 tiers cover a different grade range

In the new 9 to 1 structure, the tiers cover a different range of grades. The Foundation tier now goes up to a grade 5 (equivalent to a low B). For the Higher Tier, the new grade 5 (equivalent to the B/C boundary) is a better benchmark than the new grade 4 (the old C/D boundary).

Students who would expect to achieve a grade 4 will be better suited to the Foundation tier, whereas in the past, on the legacy specification, you might have entered them for one or more of the Higher tier: Reading or Listening.

A minimum of 20% of the questions are common to both tiers

Use the common questions from this summer’s exam series and our specimen assessment materials (SAMs) to test how comfortable your students are with them.

Speak to your colleagues

If tiering decisions went well in your maths or science departments, talk to your colleagues about the strategies they’ve used to make entry decisions.

How we can help support you

You know your students best and to help support your tiering decisions for 2019, we’ve put together a number of useful resources:

  1. Learn more about this summer’s exam results, grade boundaries and tiering in this short video.
  2. Download our infographic for the key points to consider for tiering decisions
  3. Use our GCSE Languages Insight reports to broaden your understanding of the 2018 exams.

GCSE Spanish

GCSE German

GCSE French

Entries deadlines and fees

The entries deadline for GCSE exams next summer is 21 February 2019. However, you can change your tier of entry up to 21 April 2019 without paying any additional fees.