I have always thought the rigid timetables and required syllabus / curriculum for qualifications is not conducive to taking advantage of children's interests and encouraging them to do their best. I think many pupils would prefer to select short courses from a wider range of topics, find some that peak their interest, get a study pack, do some research supported by their parents/teachers/other agency and submit either written work or online multiple choice answers. Over time they build a portfolio of evidence about what they like and how well they can do it. Not easy/cheap to organise but certainly in the pupils best interests. Of course English reading capability and basic maths is a prerequisite. Food for thought ?