§ Mr. Peter Ainsworth
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, pursuant to his answer of 5 March 2001,Official Report, column 3W, on Shakespeare, what plans he has for the examining at GCSE of the required study of Shakespeare and the other literary figures referred to in his answer. 
§ Mr. Wicks
Currently there are two GCSE examinations: GCSE English—which covers the full National Curriculum programme of study in English, including the literature requirements—and GCSE English Literature which ranges more widely. The proposal to review the GCSE in English arose from a review of examination standards over time commissioned and published by the previous administration. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has been consulting widely on how to take forward recommendations from the SCAA/Ofsted report "Standards in Public Examinations 1975 to 1995" 277W published in December 1996. We have insisted that the proportion of Shakespeare and other major figures from British literature covered in any proposals for a new English examination should not be diminished.