Exam boards welcomed the rules but said they were 'fine tuning' and would make little difference to procedures that were already rigorous.
John Patten, the Secretary of State for Education, called for action after a report last year from Her Majesty's Inspectors expressed doubt about GCSE standards and the way some exams were marked. There has been longstanding criticism from schools that some boards' exams are harder than others.
The code, issued by the School Examinations and Assessment Council, aims to guarantee that standards in different syllabuses and across the five exam groups are the same. Groups will have to sign the code before their syllabuses can be used. Mr Patten said: 'This new code will put beyond doubt the credentials of the GCSE as a reliable way of measuring achievement at the end of compulsory schooling.'
David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the good practice embodied in the code was in place before Mr Patten's attack. 'It is abundantly clear that the new code does not justify the swingeing criticisms of the GCSE which were made by the Secretary of State.'
Ann Taylor, shadow Secretary of State for Education, said Mr Patten should apologise to all young people 'whose qualifications he had cast doubt upon'.Reuse content