Students are to be encouraged to mix academic and vocational courses and, from 2000, to take five subjects in the first year of their sixth form studies. A new "key skills" qualification will also be piloted.
David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, accused the Government of "chickening out" of a compulsory broadening of the curriculum because of the costs involved.
John Dunford, general secretary elect of the Secondary Heads' Association, said that the proposals were timid and also unlikely to fit with existing timetables. Schools, he said, lack the money to implement the plans.