Education Secretary Michael Gove has unveiled plans to re-introduce O-Levels in an effort to improve the quality of children's education and reduce the number of young unemployed people in the UK.

The new O-Levels will act as a 'gold standard' in the three key subject areas of English, Maths and Science and will be set by a single nationwide board, with the aim of removing the risk of qualification boards 'competing' to make their exam more attainable.

Though the Department for Education has so far refused to comment on the "leak" revealed this morning [21 June], the Education Secretary is said to want his new 'Gove-Levels' to "meet or exceed the highest education standards in that age group.

The new qualifications could become available as soon as September 2014, with future developments in history, geography and French also planned, though the DfE is likely to face opposition from teaching unions. Opponents say the reforms will create a two tier system and penalise children who aren't academic.

Meanwhile, London Mayor Boris Johnson also plans drastic change to the capital's education system since 1990 in which he will take charge of overseeing standards, improving literacy and easing the school places crisis.

The Mayor will meet with the Education Secretary to discuss how he can become more involved in organising London's schools following his successful moves into housing and Olympic legacy.

Following on from a City Hall inquiry into schooling in London, due to be published in September, Mr Johnson will lobby for a strategic role to monitor standards in all free schools and academies, expansion of early intervention programmes to promote literacy and numeracy, control of capital funding for schools and a London-wide careers service for teenagers.

While the Mayor currently has no official powers in this area, he is expecting to suggest an education commissioner is created to help role out these changes as a logical extension of City Hall's role in skills, training and employment.

An Education Department spokesman said they "would welcome all suggestions as to how London schools can be still further improved" ahead of meeting between Mr Gove and deputy mayor for education Munira Mirza later this month.

However, critics have suggested that expanding the Mayor's would be "recreating the Inner London Education Authority", which was abolished in 1990 by Margaret Thatcher, with Lambeth council leader Steve Reed saying that "boroughs are better placed to respond to school place shortages".

A Greater London Authority spokesperson concluded: "The Mayor has long said that he is interested in a greater role in education. We are considering many aspects of [increasing] this through the Education Inquiry and are in ongoing consultation with education experts and government."

Posted 21/06/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com