Children preparing for GCSE examinations in languages are faced with an oral assessment. Some children can expect an almost unstructured assessment with a reasonably flexible oral test. Other children will have been prepared for a highly structured examination. In this case the assessment may be broken down into areas of competence. The examiner could provide almost pre-set questions in narrow areas.
If eleven plus children on the fringes of selection were to be offered a supplementary oral assessment then the examiners would need a remarkably clear cut set of objectives. The examiners would need to be highly trained and very professional.
The assessment would need to reliable. There would be little place for examiners who would offer uneven assessments.
Because the oral assessment would be working with ten year old children there could need for period where the examiner tried to relax the child. Some children, however, may take longer to relax than others. Some children may be amenable to `chit-chat’ or a little gossip while others may prefer to get straight on with the `real’ questions.
Few parents would want their child top win a place in a grammar school through `learned’ questions. This would place considerable responsibility on the child – but rightly so. An oral assessment would give children on the waiting list a chance to showcase their ability.