The head of a major exam board has been criticised for suggesting pupils should be allowed to use Google when sitting some GCSE and A-level tests.

Oxford and Cambridge RSA (OCR) chief executive Mark Dawe believes introducing a search engine tool for certain papers would help teachers assess how students apply information they have gathered.

But Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said the idea would lead to a "dumbing down of standards".

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's a nonsense.

"We have a crisis in standards in this country. We are three years behind the Chinese at the age of 15, we have got universities running remedial courses.

"We have got employers saying too many youngsters are unemployable.

"And here we have the OCR board saying 'let's dumb things down'.

"You can have an exam on how to use Google, but that is not the same as having a history or geography exam.

"Exams should be about knowledge and understanding. It includes knowledge, therefore we do have to test what children are carrying the in their heads."

It would damage the board's credibility, he insisted, because "sensible people" want their children to take proper exams.

Mr Dawe told the programme that the arguments were the same used in relation to allowing calculators in maths exams.

He added: "You do need to have a base understanding of things.

"Actually, one of the most important things is about understanding what comes up on Google or some search engine.

"It is about understanding the tools they have got available and how to utilise those.

"I think that is a very rich way of learning and a very rich way of assessing. That is relevant, that is what they will be doing in working life."

He said Google could be allowed on some papers but not others, depending on the type of questions being asked.

"You ask different questions and it is about interpretation," he added. "It's about discussion, it is about application."

He said he could not see Google coming in any time soon but suggested it was "certainly inevitable" longer term.