Labour's shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg has publicly backed the English baccalaureate (Ebacc), saying they may reverse the decline in the numbers of children opting to study foreign languages.
In an interview with the Guardian, Twigg lent his support to the government's new qualification, which was introduced to school league tables earlier this year.
The Ebacc is awarded to students who achieve high passes in academic subjects such as maths, english and science. Twigg's support of the qualification is his latest opinion shift after he expressed his support for free schools.
"If the Ebacc has one clear positive: more children carrying on to languages at 16", he said. "Let's be frank, the government has achieved something there and I welcome that."
Twigg added he "regretted" giving up Spanish when he was 14 and Labour should have put foreign languages on the timetable of primary schools before scrapping the requirement for older children.
"The mistake we made was to do it the wrong way around. What we should have done is had the primary languages approach first and then made the changes at 14.
"You can't go back to making it compulsory", he continued.
But he warned the Ebacc had "a whole set of negatives" as it had the potential of "crowding out" other subjects.