Record numbers of students scored A-grades in their A-levels this year, reigniting the debate about the future of the "gold standard" exams.
Schools, business leaders and politicians unanimously praised the hard work of about 265,000 students across the UK who received their results today.
But there were renewed calls to reform A-Levels and replace them with a new diploma system, an idea put forward in a Government review last year by former Ofsted chief Sir Mike Tomlinson.
Steve Sinnott, general secretary, of the National Union of Teachers accused ministers of being "short sighted" in rejecting the Tomlinson plan, which many education figures backed.
"There is need for reform of our examination system but not as a result of any dumbing down but because of the changing demands of modern society," he said.
"It is a pity that Lord Adonis appears to rule out the diploma option. That is very short-sighted."
He added: "The continued improvement in the performance of boys is particularly welcome.
"The figures do not justify a celebration but they are certainly pointing in the right direction."
David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said today's results and the hard work of pupils and teachers "cannot be allowed to postpone inevitable reforms to the examination system".
"The Government has to listen to the demands from an education world that is seeking a tougher and broader test of the country's able students.
"This would indeed enable the UK to compete effectively in increasingly demanding international markets."
Many in the education world were dismayed when ministers rejected the Tomlinson plan for replacing A-Levels and GCSEs with new set of diplomas that combined both vocational and academic courses.
But business leaders were reluctant to abandon the "trusted" qualifications.
Sir Digby Jones, director-general of the CBI, insisted that A-Levels must not be replaced.
He said: "The A Level is a vital component of the education system and we must not allow the repetitive debate around grades and pass rates to become yet another referendum on its future
"The A Level brand is recognised and understood by employers as the 'gold standard'.
"The Government is right to stick with it, whilst seeking to maintain its integrity and finding ways to stretch the brightest students."
TUC deputy general secretary Frances O'Grady attacked the debate of recent days over whether the exams have become easier.
"Sadly, we have the annual dismissal of their achievements from the usual suspects," she said.
"Instead of sniping from the sidelines it would be more constructive if the critics got involved in helping to shape reform of the A-level system."
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