Changes to the curriculum which will be implemented by secondary school staff
have been outlined by the Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF).
In an article for Further Education News, a spokesperson for the department said that the system for young people aged 14 and over "needed updating".
A new qualification combining classroom learning with hands-on experience called the Diploma is to be introduced for 2013, said the department.
Students will have a choice of progressing from GCSEs to A-levels, a Diploma or an apprenticeship, it added, as the compulsory age for learning is increased to 17.
Meanwhile, the department reports that GCSE and A-level exams are to become "more robust and challenging".
Earlier this year saw exam regulator Ofqual suggesting that GCSE science exams are "too easy".
The watchdog said the recently-introduced modular system raised "significant cause for concerns".
It called upon exam boards to act immediately to devise new, more difficult questions to stretch students.