Getting an A grade in A-level languages just became easier

Teenagers across Northern Ireland, England and Wales are due to receive their A-level results next week

SIXTH-formers stand a better chance of scoring a top grade in A-level languages courses this summer after an adjustment was made to grading.

Exams regulator Ofqual has asked exam boards in England to alter the grade boundaries for A grades and above by one percentage point.

The move, which has been welcomed by school leaders, applies to French, German and Spanish.

Teenagers across Northern Ireland, England and Wales are due to receive their A-level results next week.

While the majority of pupils from the north sit exams set by the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), thousands also take papers offered by English awarding bodies. Results from all boards will be published on Thursday.

In a letter to headteachers earlier this summer, Ofqual said it had recently published research "on the effect of native speakers in A-level French, German and Spanish".

"The evidence is not conclusive, but it does suggest that the proportion of native speakers taking these qualifications may have increased in recent years, as the overall entry has declined," it said.

"Informed by this research, we believe there is a case for making a small upward adjustment to the predictions used to set grade A, and we will implement this for the summer 2017 A-levels."

The decision means, for example, that, if an exam board predicts that around 25 per cent of German A-level pupils would be expected to get a grade A or above, the awarding body should be looking at around 26 per cent of candidates achieving this result.

An analysis of A-level data published by the Joint Council for Qualifications shows the numbers of entries for French and German A-level dropped by more than a quarter between 2011 and 2016. There was an 11.2 per cent rise in the numbers taking Spanish over this period, while entries for other modern languages also rose.

CCEA, meanwhile, has set up a dedicated examinations helpline to offer advice and guidance for young people expecting A-level and GCSE results over the next two weeks.

It will be in operation from 9am until 5pm, from Wednesday August 16 until Wednesday August 30, however, lines will open from 7am on Thursday August 17, A-level results day.

Anyone with queries can call 028 9026 1260,email, or visit

CCEA Examinations Manager Michael Crossan said results day was a momentous occasion in the life of every pupil.

"Each year CCEA's examinations helpline responds to hundreds of calls from students, parents and schools who have queries about their examination results," he said.

"The helpline has proved to be a highly important and valuable service that provides reassurance and guidance during what can be an anxious and stressful time."

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