Sir Ken Robinson, the influential educationalist, has attacked the lack of creative arts in the English Baccalaureate (EBac).
The academic - who led the All Our Futures report in 1999 for then education secretary David Blunkett - attacked the new league table measure as too restrictive.
He said: "The EBac doesn't include the arts. I find that inconceivable. I was speaking to a minister who said he thought the arts were really important in every child's education - so (I asked), 'Why aren't they in the EBac if they are so important?' He replied that schools have 40 per cent of curriculum time in which to teach the arts.
"But I said the EBac sets out what you think is important - and schools are beginning to act on that."
Speaking at a meeting of charity Heads, Teachers and Industry, Sir Ken compared the EBac unfavourably to the recently launched Scottish Curriculum for Excellence. The Scottish system has eight curriculum areas, including the expressive arts, which covers art, design, dance, drama and music.
"Human ability is tremendously diverse. The education system is not about the celebration of diversity but conformity. This is the problem with the EBac," he said.