Labour pledge to safeguard Hebrew qualifications

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Labour pledge to safeguard Hebrew qualifications

Hebrew would remain a part of the GCSE and A-Level curriculum under a Labour government, the party’s education spokesman Tristram Hunt has said.

The pledge comes amid uncertainty over the future of qualifications in modern and ancient Hebrew, which, along with several other languages including Polish, Bengali, Portugese and Turkish, are set to be axed by exam boards in 2017.

AQA will no longer offer Modern Hebrew at A-Level, and OCR is to discontinue its A-Level in Biblical Hebrew. 

Launching the campaign on a visit to a Gurdwara in Brentford, Hunt said: “We need these languages so young people can connect with and celebrate their heritage.

“I have been very clear on the language qualifications facing the axe: not on my watch. Labour is the only party committed to saving these crucial language qualifications. Losing them would limit our place in the world.”

Speaking in the House of Commons in March, Tory education minister Nick Gibb said that “learning a foreign language is both a great pleasure and an excellent preparation for life in a modern country such as Britain, which has an outward looking and globalised economy”.

Despite this, Gibb said “small numbers” of uptake in lesser-studied languages such as Hebrew created difficulties for exam boards the government have refused to commit to maintaining qualifications in Hebrew.

The threat to Hebrew qualifications at a time when British firms have identified foreign language skills as particularly important – a report from the CBI last year found that almost two-thirds of businesses identified a need for employees with additional languages.

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