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The Department for Education has 40 civil servants working to develop prime minister Rishi Sunak’s Advanced British Standard qualification “vanity project” even though it is unlikely to see the light of day.

Pepe Di’Iasio, incoming general secretary of the ASCL leaders’ union, said it was “beyond frustrating that – at a time when recruitment, retention, funding, SEND and many other issues are under enormous pressure – there is a platoon of civil servants” having to work on the qualification.

Developing a “British baccalaureate” was a key pledge in Sunak’s leadership bid in 2022.

The prime minister announced last year that his government would replace A-levels and T-levels with the qualification, which will see pupils study English and maths to 18 alongside “majors” and “minors” in other subjects.

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