The exams system has lost credibility "from almost top to bottom", the former chief schools inspector Sir Mike Tomlinson warned yesterday.
Parents and pupils had "lost confidence" in the system, he told a London conference. "It's a tragedy for the pupils – they are the ones to suffer," he added.
Sir Mike, who also headed the last big inquiry into exam reforms after a crisis in A-level marking 10 years ago, warned against returning to a supposed "golden age" – which critics have claimed Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, is trying to do by promoting a traditional academic curriculum.
"We don't want yesterday's curriculum despite the nostalgia felt by some," he said. "There was never a golden age that we should follow."
He also criticised Mr Gove's plan for an English Baccalaureate based on a core of English, maths, science, a language and a humanities subject – history or geography.
"The shortage in this country is not among history graduates," he added. "The shortage is among good technicians who will drive our economy."
He said Mr Gove's baccalaureate was "not a baccalaureate – the rest of the world will tell you that." What was needed was a "true" baccalaureate with a broader subject base.
Sir Mike's concerns echo those expressed by Louise Robinson, president of the Girls' School Association, in an interview with The Independent this week.