Joint research by colleges and a training and enterprise council found that efforts to improve some curriculum areas were scotched by a rigid divide within the current system of qualifications.
The findings of the study will give added impetus to Sir Ron Dearing's review of education and training for 16 to 19-year-olds. His call for evidence officially closes next Friday.
A strong case for the introduction of a unified curriculum is made in the joint study. But, recognising that change cannot come overnight, a report on the study suggests ways of moving forward while still working within the present split system.
The research was carried out jointly by City and Islington College, Hackney Community College, the University of London Instititute of Education and City and Inner London North TEC.
It points to a need for all subjects to be broken down into units, allowing students to accumulate credits and giving them the flexibility to switch between institutions and the workplace, while learning at their own pace.