When we return after half term my year 11 classes will be sitting their final written controlled assessment. I cannot wait to see the back of it! I'm celebrating the end of paragraphs that are drafted and redrafted and redrafted once more, learned off by heart and regurgitated onto the paper when it's time to sit the assessment. Controlled assessment has been a game, and a memory game at that. It's not really been about who can use the target language, but about who can cram in all the good features using all their resources, get it marked, learn it off by heart and then write it all back down again without even having to understand what they're writing.
I think the move to all exam will also make students take it more seriously. We have lots of issues with students not seeing their CA as important or as the 'exam' that it is. Turning up and refusing to do it, saying they're not ready or that they can't - especially in the case of the speaking CA. Forgetting that it counts towards their GCSE etc.
Of course, losing controlled assessment leaves us with the challenge of ensuring students have sound grammatical knowledge and know their vocabulary - but isn't that what having a GCSE in a language should actually be about - being able to use the language? Yes, students are going to find it much harder, yes, grades are going to drop to begin with. We have a long way to go but I for one am very happy with the new arrangements. I think, despite the difficulties it may cause, this will be a change for the positive.