Rising numbers of pupils are taking the subjects comprising the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), according to new Department for Education (DfE) figures.
Children achieve the EBacc if they get at least a C in English, maths, two science subjects, history or geography, and a language at GCSE level.
The measure was introduced by the government due to its concern rising numbers of pupils were taking non-academic subjects that would reduce their chances of entering higher education or the labour market.
Now the DfE has published statistics showing the proportion of state school pupils taking the EBacc climbed from 23 per cent in 2012 to 35 per cent this year - equating to an increase of 72,000 pupils.
The share of pupils achieving the EBacc likewise increased from 16 per cent last year to 23 per cent in 2013, meaning 38,000 more children attained these qualifications.
Education Minister Elizabeth Truss commented: "We have reversed the long-term decline of the key academic subjects that give children the best chance to get on in life.
"For years children were steered away from subjects like languages and history but the EBacc is fixing that. Pupils who study these subjects have more options, especially if they come from poorer backgrounds."
DfE figures indicate the proportion of pupils taking history or geography rose from 50 per cent last year to 60 per cent this year, while the share taking a modern language climbed from 40 per cent to 48 per cent over the same period.
Entrants at GCSE level rose by 19 per cent for history between 2012 and 2013, 21 per cent for geography, 19 per cent for French, ten per cent for German, and 31 per cent for Spanish.
In the London local authority areas of Wandsworth, Westminster, Barnet, Harrow, Hounslow, Richmond, Sutton, and Kingston, more than half of all pupils entered the EBacc this year.
By contrast, in Middlesbrough, Sandwell, Knowsley and Barnsley, fewer than 20 per cent of all pupils took the EBacc, with just nine per cent in Sandwell achieving it.
Posted by Tim Colman