Most GCSE equivalents axed from school league tables
Ministers have cut the value of more than 3,100 vocational qualifications, ending their recognition in England's school league tables.
Known as "equivalents", from 2014 only 70 will count in the tables' headline GCSE measure and on a like-for-like basis with GCSEs.
Currently some count for as much as six GCSEs.
The government says this has created "perverse incentives" for schools to offer them and boost their position.
The move is a clear disincentive for schools to continue offer such qualifications, and the government had instructed them to wait for its final list before changing their timetables for September 2012.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said the changes would extend opportunity because only qualifications which had demonstrated rigour, and had track records of taking young people into good jobs or university would count in the future.
- The size of a GCSE or bigger
- Externally assessed - at least partly
- Include grades, rather than just pass or fail
- Offer progression to further qualifications and careers
- Have good take-up levels among 14- to 16-year-olds
The shake-up comes after a review of vocational qualifications for the government by Prof Alison Wolf suggested schools had been tempted to teach qualifications that attract the most points in school performance tables.
This had meant students had been steered into notching up qualifications which may not help them into work or higher education, she suggested.
Mr Gove said: "The weaknesses in our current system were laid bare by Prof Wolf's incisive and far-reaching review. The changes we are making will take time, but will transform the lives of young people.
"For too long the system has been devalued by attempts to pretend that all qualifications are intrinsically the same. Young people have taken courses that have led nowhere."'Stimulating'
But many who took part in the consultation on the issue feared the new measures may lead schools to only offer qualifications that could be included in performance tables.
Others feared the move might undervalue vocational qualifications altogether and have a negative impact upon disengaged young people who are often encouraged by such courses.
But Prof Wolf said: "Vocational studies can form a stimulating and demanding part of the curriculum. But pretending that all vocational qualifications are equally valuable does not bring them respect."
As well as the 70 equivalents that will count towards the school's five good GCSE grades including English and maths, a further 55 will be valid for other league table measures.
However, the DfE will be reviewing the majority of qualifications to ensure they meet the new standards after 2014.