Tories to tackle the media studies menace

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Exam success in maths and physics would carry greater weight than that in "soft" subjects such as media studies under a proposed shake-up of school league tables unveiled by the Conservatives.

Vocational qualifications, including Labour's new diploma, would be stripped from league table rankings because they are "nowhere near as academically demanding" as A-levels and GCSEs, a report commissioned for the party said.

The performance of schools at GCSE level would no longer be judged on the proportion of pupils who gain A* to C grades. Instead, a points-based system would be introduced, placing greater value on higher grades.

The Conservatives also want schools to be forced to track their former pupils' progress in higher education and in employment.

It emerged this year that a course in "tanning treatments" was worth 45 points in school league table scores – the same as an A grade in one of the four units that make up an A-level.

The proposals to overhaul what the Tories claim is a "dumbed-down" education system are the result of an inquiry commissioned by the shadow Education Secretary, Michael Gove, and carried out by Sir Richard Sykes, the former rector of Imperial College London.

Mr Gove told The Sunday Telegraph: "There is objective evidence from people who care about academic standards that they are not what they should be."