Joan Ryan MP: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what representations she has received from (a) schools, (b) community groups and (c) other organisations on the future of examinations in (i) Turkish, (ii) modern Greek and (iii) other community languages.
Nick Gibb MP: I have recently met representatives of communities and schools in which these languages are spoken, to hear their concerns and consider how we can work with the awarding organisations and Ofqual to maintain a range of languages at GCSE and A level, including Turkish, modern Greek and other languages.
The number of pupils studying for a modern language GCSE has increased by 20% since 2010 due to the introduction of the English Baccalaureate. Studying a foreign language provides an opening to other cultures, fosters pupils’ curiosity and deepens their understanding of the world. It also equips pupils to study and work in other countries. There are considerable benefits to learning a second language and the government is keen to see the range of languages at GCSE and A level preserved.
The Department for Education does not promote the teaching of one foreign language over another and has not made an assessment of the benefits of pupils learning Turkish, modern Greek or other community languages.
The department is currently working with awarding organisations and Ofqual to consider how best to enable as wide a range of languages as possible to be maintained at GCSE and A level. The government has been clear that it wants to see all pupils provided with the opportunity to take a core set of academic subjects, including modern foreign languages.
The Secretary of State wrote to exam boards in April 2015 to express her concern about awarding organisations’ decision to stop awarding qualifications in some languages, and to ask those organisations to work with Ofqual on the future of these qualifications. We are actively exploring the best approach, in close discussion with those organisations, and in consultation with community representatives.