Two more examination boards will next week announce plans to bridge the academic-vocational divide with an overlapping syllabus for a General National Vocational Qualification and an A-level.
The initiative by the RSA Examinations Board and the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate will start in September. The benefits will be outlined to teachers at a mathematics for education and science (MEI) conference in Oxford next Friday.
The move follows the announcement three weeks ago of a merger between the academic board London Examinations and the vocational Business and Technician Education Council, enabling students and schools to go to one board for vocational and academic qualifications.
The RSAUCLES scheme will involve students studying common units in a Cambridge modular A-level - which is an offshoot of the MEI project - and GNVQ science.
Students on the GNVQ course will have to take an additional test because of Government rules on the proportion of examined coursework.
The obvious benefits to students will be the ability to switch easily from one course to the other if their career plans change. The scheme also gives GNVQ equal status with A-level - or what is often called "parity of esteem".
The RSA and UCLES also hope to develop overlapping units for other courses and subjects but some of the ideas may be limited by Government rules.
All the boards are waiting for the outcome of the Government's 16-19 education review led by Sir Ron Dearing, chief executive of the School Curriculum and Assessment Council. His recommendations will be scrutinised carefully because Sir Ron is well known for supporting closer cooperation between the academic and vocational exam bodies.
Martin Cross, the RSA chief executive, stressed that the two boards had no plans to merge, and denied that the London ExaminationsBTEC announcement had stolen their thunder. The RSAUCLES scheme would have real benefits, he said, whereas their rivals had said A-levels would remain untouched despite the merger.