Labour leader Tony Blair is unveiling his party's plans to reform A levels and post-14 vocational qualifications at a lecture at the Institute of Education in London today.
Labour wants to create a post-14 qualifications system similar to the Higher Still scheme being piloted in Scotland, where academic and vocational study is combined.
It would mean A level students pursuing a wider range of courses and the upgrading of vocational courses such as those leading to National Vocational Qualifications and General NVQs.
"We need to develop compatible curriculum structures and common principles of assessment that promote not just flexibility between academic and vocational options, but the combination of academic and vocational study," he said.
The new system would provide a coherent route "from the end of Key Stage 3 to university and employment, " he promised.
Labour has also signalled its intention to require management of further and higher education, should it win the next election.
Bryan Davies, the party's further and higher education spokesman, says it would open up on "unaccountable" governing structures in universities and colleges. He also implied that Labour would seek to prevent institutions charging additional fees. He told the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy last week that Labour was determined to see governing bodies become more open and democratic, and to promote "a new form of institutional behaviour" in higher education.
In further education, Labour would seek to ensure that all "social partners", iincluding students, staff, em-ployers, were effectively represented on governing bodies to combat "narrowness" and poor understanding among managements. The party would put in place a new democratic structure for strategic planning and encourage closer collaboration with higher education.
Labour would be "resolutely opposed" to the introduction of top-up fees, but would hope to build on present moves to bring in more private finance. Universities would need to adjust their structures of governance to reflect their wider responsibilities as they struck up new partnerships with employers and community organisations.