In a fresh blow to the Government's flagship education reforms, it emerged that students in many local authorities were showing little interest in the exams. Diplomas are supposed to bridge the traditional divide between practical and academic qualifications. Ministers hope they will prove particularly appealing to 14 to 19 year olds from working class backgrounds – and may eventually replace GCSEs and A-levels altogether. But figures from the Conservatives suggest students in many towns and cities are shunning them. In three areas – Wakefield, Blackburn and Harrow
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