Languages set for return to curriculum

TEENAGERS could once again be made to study a modern foreign language at GCSE, in school reforms being launched by the coalition Government.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said yesterday he was leaving the door open to making the subject compulsory for 14- to 16-year-olds under a new review of the national curriculum.

The requirement for teenagers to take a language at GCSE was axed by the last Labour Government in 2004, leading to a massive slump in the numbers taking the subjects at that level.

Mr Gove said English, maths and science, along with PE, should form the core of the curriculum.

However he said the rest was "open to debate" as he refused to rule out making foreign languages compulsory.

He said: "We have given people a nudge with the English Baccalaureate towards a certain set of academic subjects. Beyond that, we want to have an informed debate."

To achieve the new "English Bacc", pupils must gain at least five A* to C grades at GCSEs in English, maths, science, a language and a humanities subject. Children could also be required to spend an afternoon a week playing outdoor sport as a result of the curriculum review. Recommendations are expected to say that all school pupils should play competitive sport and learn to swim.

Meanwhile Greg Mulholland, Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West, has written to Mr Gove asking for the Government to "re-think" its plans on the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

The backbencher says Ministers should make public their proposals for replacing the fund before asking MPs to scrap it. Labour's attempt to halt EMA being axed was defeated on Wednesday. EMA pays up to 30 a week to help 16- to 19-year-olds from the poorest households stay in education.