Is computer science attractive enough?

GCSE Computer Science grades are improving, but BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, says more needs to be done to support teachers and pupils in this subject to improve uptake. Education Business reports.

Record numbers of students achieved standard and top grades in their Computer Science GCSE, despite the decision not to include coursework in the final marking.
A total of 72,485 students sat the exam this year – an increase of 11.8 per cent on 2017. Of those students, 44,650 students -(61.1 per cent of the total) attained grades 9 to 4, equivalent to the old A* to C grades. 15,222 students (21 per cent of the total) achieved grades 9 to 7, equivalent to the old A* and A grades.
In January, Ofqual suspended the non-exam assessment component, after it was agreed that the practical component had significant shortfalls and a perception that malpractice was widespread including programming tasks and solutions being shared and discussed online.

Julia Adamson, director of education at BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, said:  
“The withdrawal of the non-exam assessment component during the 2018 academic year was less than ideal, but it was necessary to ensure that the students who took the qualification this year, and will do next year, are treated equally and their final grades can unquestionably be relied upon.”
Ofqual will be consulting on how to assess practical skill from 2020 onwards, and the BCS will be contributing.

Julia Adamson said:  “There is a critical need to improve computer science teaching through better professional development, support and resources. We need to recognise the value of the subject and students, particularly girls, need to be encouraged and supported to take the subject.
“Equipping young people with good quality and relevant computing and IT skills provides a pathway to social mobility. We need to help ensure all pupils, regardless of background, receive the best possible education and the same access to opportunity.”
The call was echoed by Sue Sentance, board member of Computing At School, part of BCS, who said: “If education is about helping children to understand the world around them and preparing them for the world of work, then Computer Science in schools is vital when 90 per cent of future jobs will require digital skills.”

Read more about GCSE and A level computer science  Is computer science attractive enough?

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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