The government’s new diploma for 14-19 year-olds, due to be launched next year, has been slated by an Oxford University professor.

The Nuffield Review – which was led by Richard Pring, a professor at Oxford’s department of education – said that the introduction of the diplomas had been rushed and badly researched.

The new qualification, which is the brainchild of Schools Secretary Ed Balls, is aimed at narrowing the gap between vocational and academic learning, but the report dismissed this notion.

It said, “Such middle-track qualifications have in the past been regarded as an alternative for the less academically able and the review predicts that teachers will view diplomas in the same way — with A levels and GCSEs remaining the more prestigious qualifications.”