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House of Commons Hansard
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04 July 2016
Volume 612
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13. What steps her Department is taking to increase the uptake of languages at GCSE. [905621]

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The Government have acted to halt the serious decline in the number of pupils taking language GCSEs—40% of pupils in 2011 took a GCSE in modern foreign languages, down from 76% in 2000—and thanks to the EBacc, the proportion of pupils in state schools entered for a modern foreign language GCSE increased by 20% between 2011 and 2015. Our ambition is that 90% of pupils in mainstream secondary schools will enter GCSEs in EBacc subjects, including a language.

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The internationalist manufacturing and business base across Rossendale and Darwen needs people with modern language skills if it is to continue to compete and succeed. What steps can schools take to co-operate with local businesses, such as those in my constituency, to ensure that the menu of language skills that pupils leave school with matches business requirement?

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My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and one of the key goals of the Careers and Enterprise Company is to increase that engagement with business. The CBI’s recent report found that 77% of businesses valued foreign language skills and that nearly one third rated Mandarin as a useful language.

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Will the Minister make sure that Punjabi continues to be available at GCSE for many years to come?

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Yes, I can make that commitment.