Filling and bridging the gap in languages: How are foundation certificates being used in the progression to GCSE?

This is an investigation into the Foundation Certificates in Secondary Education (FCSEs), which are currently only available in some Modern Foreign Languages (MFLs). Students may take the FCSE to fill the current gap in formal accreditation at Key Stage 3 (KS3) or to bridge the gap to GCSE at Key Stage 4 (KS4). The effectiveness of the FCSE at preparing those students who continue to a GCSE in MFLs forms the main part of this investigation. The students considered are those who progressed from an FCSE to one of the most popular language GCSEs: French, Spanish, German and Italian. How the FCSE fits with other non-mainstream qualifications and with the newly-introduced English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is discussed and the typical candidature is summarised. The language learning routes that these students follow, the progression to GCSE made according to FCSE outcome and the value added to students for having taken the FCSE and are all analysed. Overall, findings indicate that the FCSE is being used beyond its original intention, appears to be fostering GCSE uptake and, in some cases, may be contributing to improved GCSE outcomes.

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