GCSE Computing set to miss out on first wave of reform

Computer science GCSE remains an after thought in education secretary Michael Gove’s rapidly changing curriculum and exam regime.

Gove belatedly added Computer Science to the EBaccqualification last month, but unlike the initial set of ‘core subjects' (Maths, English, Biology, Physics and Chemistry), which are set to be reformed for teaching in 2015, GCSE Computing will be delayed for at least a further 12 months.

The news comes as Education Secretary Michael Gove has backtracked on his decision to scrap GCSEs altogether in favour of his proposed EBC qualification, and instead has decided to reform the current system to make exams more rigorous and restrict grade inflation.

Gove was facing increasing pressure from Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, parliamentary committees and industry lobby groups. Labour has described the U-turn as ‘humiliating’ for the Education Secretary, who has been seen as one of David Cameron’s closest allies in the coalition’s reform agenda.

“My idea that we end the competition between exam boards to offer GCSEs in core academic qualifications and have just one – wholly new – exam in each subject was just one reform too many at this time,” said Gove.

“The exam regulator Ofqual – which has done such a great job in recent months upholding standards – was clear that there were significant risks in trying to both strengthen qualifications and end competition in a large part of the exams market. So I have decided not to make the best the enemy of the good.”

He added: “And I will not proceed with plans to have a single exam board offering a new exam in each academic subject – instead we will concentrate on reforming existing GCSEs along the lines we put forward in September.”

However, industry watchers will be pleased to note that in the draft national curriculum Gove has taken measures to overhaul the current ICT GCSE with Computing, which now looks to teach pupils “how digital systems work, how they are designed and programmed, and the fundamental principles of information and computation.”

By Key Stage 4 (GCSE level)pupils will be expected to “study aspects of information technology and computer science at sufficient depth to allow them to progress to higher levels of study or to a professional career”.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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