New guidance released by the Department for Education (DfE) yesterday (October 27th) aims to stop schools boosting their performance in league tables.
Following a ten-week consultation, the DfE has announced that as of 2014 only high-quality vocational qualifications will count towards school performance tables.
Currently, it is possible for schools to pick subjects that are easy for pupils to pass in order to artificially inflate their performance, but the new guidelines aim to encourage schools to choose the right qualifications for their pupils.
At the moment all qualifications, regardless of quality, count towards schools' performances in league tables with some qualifications the equivalent to as much as six GCSEs.
Making the announcement, Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: "We want to be sure that the vocational qualifications taken by 14-16 year olds genuinely lead on to further education and are valued by employers."
No pupil should be taking courses simply to help the school boost its performance in league tables, he added.
The changes follow a report by Professor Alison Wolf in which she was highly critical of many of the vocational qualifications currently available to pupils.
Only qualifications that offer proven progression for students studying them will now be included, with courses expected to be the same size or bigger than GCSEs while including a substantial amount of external assessment.
All GCSEs, established IGCSEs and AS-levels will remain included.
Mr Gibb claimed that the reforms would introduce a systematic and fair set of rules to determine which qualifications would contribute to performance tables.
"They will lead to a boost in the quality of vocational qualifications being taken and will enhance the opportunities for young people to progress," he added.
The Department announced that in early 2012 it will publish a comprehensive list of all qualifications that count towards performance tables.
Posted by Tim Colman