Topical Questions

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 11th November 2013.

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Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove The Secretary of State for Education 2:30 pm, 11th November 2013

Tragically, when I was a student at Robert Gordon’s college in Aberdeen, I was not able to take English GCSE, because I was in Scotland and GCSEs were not on offer at that time. As a historian, the hon. Gentleman could perhaps do with studying geography rather more.

Under our new accountability system, which I urge the hon. Gentleman to study and which his colleague, Kevin Brennan, welcomed, English will not count unless students study both English language and literature, and the English baccalaureate, which Tristram Hunt supports, will be conferred on students only if they study both English language and literature. He talks about Jane Austen. One of the tragedies about the current English GCSE is that fewer than 1% of students who sit it actually read a word of Jane Austen. Before he asks another question in the House, may I recommend to him one particular text of hers—“Pride and Prejudice”? A knowledge of both things would certainly help him to be a more effective Opposition spokesperson.