The head of the country's biggest exams board yesterday cast fresh doubt on the success of the Government's new flagship diploma qualification.
Dr Mike Cresswell, director general of the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, said he did not believe the diplomas were the kind of qualification "youngsters actually want".
His comments are a further blow to the diplomas programme following the decision by the Confederation of British Industry earlier this year to withdraw support for them.
Dr Cresswell said he felt the time had come "to bring back the idea of a general diploma" which would also cover GCSE and A-level results.
Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Education, has said that diplomas could become the natural route for 16- to 18-year-olds, replacing A-levels.