Curriculum Starting Points

There are two main aspects of writing within the new Programmes of Study that represent a change of emphasis at KS2 and KS3.

  1. The focus is on writing from memory, even at the earliest stages in KS2.
  2. Translation from English into the target language is an explicit element within the teaching of writing at KS3.

Both aspects are built upon and represented in the expectations for writing at GCSE level. The writing exam will be 100% terminal assessment, taken without dictionary, and will include the need to respond in free prose to a written and visual stimuli (Foundation) and written only stimuli (Higher), as well as complete a translation from English into the target language, at sentence (Foundation) or short text (Higher) level.

What the Programme of Study says:


Key stage 2:

Pupils will learn to:

  • write phrases from memory, and adapt these to create new sentences, to express ideas clearly
  • describe people, places, things and actions orally* and in writing

Key stage 3:

Pupils will learn to:

  • write prose using an increasingly wide range of grammar and vocabulary
  • write creatively to express their own ideas and opinions, and
  • translate short written text accurately into the foreign language.

What the draft GCSE criteria suggest:

GCSE specifications will be cumulative and progressive in content and language. They will take account of the matters, skills and processes specified in the national curriculum programmes of study for key stages 2 and 3. They will also build on the foundation of core grammar and vocabulary outlined in the programmes of study for key stages 2 and 3, increasing the level of linguistic and cognitive demand.

In writing, students need to:

communicate effectively in writing for a variety of purposes across a range of specified contexts
write short texts, using simple sentences and familiar language accurately to convey meaning and exchange information
produce clear and coherent text of extended length to present facts and express ideas and opinions appropriately for different purposes and in different settings
make accurate use of a variety of vocabulary and grammatical structures, including some more complex forms, to describe and narrate with reference to past, present and future events
manipulate the language, using and adapting a variety of structures and vocabulary with increasing accuracy and fluency for new purposes, including using appropriate style and register
make independent, creative and more complex use of the language, as appropriate, to note down key points, express and justify individual thoughts and points of view, in order to interest, inform or convince
translate sentences and short texts from English into the assessed language to convey key messages accurately and to apply grammatical knowledge of language and structures in context

What does this imply?
Some questions to discuss with colleagues:

  • To what extent do the new criteria at KS2, KS3 and KS4 imply a change in practice for us in our department?
  • How do we currently teach writing?
  • Does our current methodology give students the ability to produce text of an extended length?
  • Are students able to manipulate language when they write to express themselves clearly?
  • Are students able present facts, express ideas and opinions, describe and narrate events in different time frames?

Reference: DFE-00348-2014
Modern languages GCSE subject content (DFE, 2014)

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