HC Deb 02 July 2003 vol 408 c289W
Miss McIntosh

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent representations he has received regarding the compulsory teaching of one modern language between the ages of 14 and 16. [121752]

Mr. Miliband

Through our Green Paper '14–19: extending opportunities, raising standards' we consulted extensively on our proposals to create more choice and flexibility at Key Stage 4. Through our Language Learning pamphlet we also consulted on our aspirations for the future of language learning in this country. The overall response to the consultations endorsed our view that schools should no longer be required to teach modern foreign languages to all pupils but that schools should be required to ensure that any pupil wishing to study a modern foreign language should be able to do so.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority are currently consulting on the detailed proposals for the implementation of this curriculum change and the other proposed changes to the curriculum at Key Stage 4.

Mr. Gibb

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make an assessment of whether the acquisition of a modern foreign language is(a) a generic and (b) a specialist skill. [121800]

Mr. Stephen Twigg

While we have made no formal assessment on this issue, we consider that the acquisition of a modern foreign language can be both a generic and a specialist skill, depending on a number of factors, including the age of the student, the reasons for learning a language and the level of competence required.

We have asked the 14–19 working group chaired by Mike Tomlinson to consider the appropriate balance between generic and specialist skills in learning programmes for this age group.