Diplomas 'a wrong turning' says Gove

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The Conservative education spokesman, Michael Gove, has given a clear warning that the party would scrap a key element of the Government's flagship diploma programme.

Mr Gove told an audience of business chiefs and educationists at a CBI summit yesterday that he considered the three "academic" diplomas in humanities, languages and science – due to be launched in 2011 – were "a mistake and a wrong turning". The CBI has withdrawn its support for the three qualifications.

The Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, has indicated that he could see the diplomas replacing A-levels for children in the future.

But Mr Gove said that the Conservatives "wish to preserve and enhance A-levels" so see no role for the "so-called academic diplomas". He said: "There are a number of worrying indications that the examinations are not as rigorous as we would like them to be – for example much of the assessment will not be externally monitored effectively."