Skip to main content

School Curriculum

Volume 541: debated on Monday 27 February 2012

15. What recent assessment he has made of the breadth and content of the school curriculum; and if he will make a statement. (96397)

The Government are currently reviewing the national curriculum to make sure it is as rigorous as the curricula used in the most successful education jurisdictions in the world. We are, as part of that work, considering which subjects should be included in the national curriculum and the content of what is taught in those subjects. However, we are clear that, whatever the outcome of the review, all schools should teach a broad and balanced curriculum.

It was at the end of 2010 that I wrote to the Minister of State to urge on him the importance of teaching foreign languages at key stage 2 in primary schools. What have the Government done since then to encourage foreign language teaching to primary school children, and when does he think that the national curriculum authority will make a decision on the matter?

Those issues are being addressed in the review, and we will report on decisions as and when they are made. The introduction of the English baccalaureate, however, has done more to encourage the take-up of modern foreign languages in secondary schools than any decision since 2004, when the hon. Gentleman’s party was in government and decided to remove the compulsory element of modern foreign languages. As a consequence of that decision, numbers plummeted.

Is it not the case that all our leading competitors, including Germany and Canada, insist that pupils learn history and modern foreign languages until the age of 16? Will the Government take that into consideration in the curriculum review?

The expert panel report which we published towards the end of last year recommended more compulsion until pupils reached the age of 16, and we are considering that. However, as I said to the hon. Member for York Central (Hugh Bayley), the English baccalaureate has done more to increase the take-up of modern foreign languages and, indeed, history than any other single measure undertaken by the Government.