History, geography and languages enjoy comeback on secondary school curriculum


History, geography and  modern foreign language lessons are enjoying a comeback on the secondary school curriculum, according to figures released today.

Overall, though, the number of teachers has fallen for the first time in years – by 10,000 – as councils prune staffing in the wake of schools opting to quit their control and become academies.

The figures show that the number of hours spent on the three subjects has increased by 10 per cent over the past twelve months after years in which – most notably in the case of modern foreign languages – their popularity has declined.

The biggest increase (13 per cent) is in the time devoted to geography.

This follows the introduction of the English Baccalaureate by Education Secretary Michael Gove as a measure in league tables.

The EBacc will in future be awarded to any pupil gaining five A* to C grades in English, maths, science, modern foreign languages and a humanities subject – either history or geography.

“Today’s figures show an encouraging trend that reflects the fact that schools are offering more of these core academic subjects,” said Schools Minister Nick Gibb.

They show there were about 3,400 more teachers teaching the three subject areas and an increase of 23,000 teaching hours on the subjects.

Critics have claimed that the EBacc is too narrow – Particularly in the humanities where subjects like arts and religious education are excluded.

The figures, though, come at a time when the overall number of teachers employed in the state system has fallen – by 10,000 – for the first time in years to 438,000.

The DfE claims most of the jobs lost have been tutors or advisers employed by local authorities as a result of their schools opting to quit their control and become academies. 

However, Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and college Leaders, said heads were being faced with difficult decisions as a result of budget cuts.

Meanwhile, the number of heads earning six figure salaries  has increased to 700 – 300 of them working in academies. On average, academy heads earn £61, 500 compared to just £54m 600 in local authority maintained schools.