More students are studying core subjects at GCSE, the government has claimed, attributing this turnaround to the immediate impact of the English Baccalaureate.
The EBacc, as it is known, was introduced by the Department for Education as a new measure for school performance tables at the beginning of January 2011, being awarded to any pupils achieving GCSE grade C or above in certain subjects.
These subjects are English; maths; a language, such as French or German; history or geography; and at least two sciences. If a student receives C grades or better in these subjects, then they will achieve the EBacc.
According to new research by the National Centre for Social Research, conducted on behalf of the Department for Education (DfE), 33 per cent of pupils sitting their GCSEs next year will be eligible to achieve the EBacc.
The survey of 700 state-maintained schools indicated that in 2013, schools expect 47 per cent of their GCSE students to be taking a combination of subjects that fits in with the EBacc.
Although 33 per cent in the 2011-12 academic year still only represents a third of students, the DfE points out that this still represents a marked improvement over last year, when just 22 per cent of GCSE-stage pupils were entered for the EBacc, and a reversing of the historic decline.
In fact, the research supports the argument that the level of students studying core subjects at the ages of 15 and 16 has returned to that last seen ten years ago.
The figures also suggest that the take-up of history, geography and languages has been particularly strong.
Last week, the Joint Council for Qualifications published provisional figures suggesting that 180,737 students sat geography GCSE exams this summer, compared to 240,310 in 2002.
However, from September 2011, 33 per cent of those scheduled to take GCSEs in 2013 will be studying geography, an increase of 28 per cent compared to those who sat their exams this summer.