Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Education what assessment he has made of the effect of his proposed reforms to GCSEs on the proportion of students studying (a) design and technology, (b) art, (c) music and (d) drama at GCSE level.
Elizabeth Truss (South West Norfolk, Conservative)
Together with Ofqual, we have made a number of changes to strengthen GCSEs: for two year courses starting this September, external exams will be taken at the end of the course in 2014. Marks will be awarded for accurate spelling, punctuation and use of grammar in those subjects that involve extended writing—English literature, geography, history and religious studies—from January 2013. In addition to these changes we also introduced in 2010 the English Baccalaureate to ensure students have the option to study the core subjects of English, mathematics, history or geography, the sciences and languages.
The latest figures available from the Joint Council for Qualifications in summer 2012 has shown some decline in entries to design and technology (5.1%), art and design (2.4%), music (3.6%) and drama (6.3%). There was a substantial increase in entries to the three separate sciences—biology, chemistry and physics—all up 12.3%. In modern foreign languages there was an overall increase of 2.0%.