Computing and ICT for all at examination level

Currently Computer Science is the only Computing subject to be allowed at GCSE/A level but many students are missing out on Computer based subjects as Computer Science is too difficult for them. There needs to be another type of examination like ICT to help all students to succeed and to maintain the difficulty of Computer Science.

Posted by David James Astall on 3rd Dec 2016
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Strongly Agree : 14 %
Agree : 71 %
Disagree : 14 %
Strongly Disagree : 0 %

Comments (14)

Benjamin James Wagner

28 February 2019

I'd advise having a practical course, back when I studied the only option was an "office suite" GCSE, I did it, but a lot of people thought IT jobs were just that sort of thing.

My wife did the ECDL and it was a good practical foundation on using computers. I'd suggest offering that sort of qualification (maybe even add it to the core like English and Maths) as it gives you the skills you need to survive in an office, then keep the IT/ComSci qualification more focused on the career skills.

Mark Smyth-Roberts

20 March 2018

Do we have the right teaching skills to achieve any of the recommendations? and are lessons and exams focussed on development or achieving grades?

Harry Brewer

06 December 2017

if you do a BTEC in ICT it is a very fun learning process, but when I did a GCSE ICT it was more spreadsheets and business packages. it very nearly put me off from pursuing a career in ICT

David James Astall

11 April 2017

I can see why the BCS and others felt that ICT was not being well taught and as a subject it tended to be all word processing and spreadsheets, but that is a fault of the system. It could have been mended not got rid of.

David James Astall

11 April 2017

Having just retired from teaching my colleagues tell me that some students thrive on Computer Science and the bulk of these would have taken the subject if ICT was still around, but others take Computer Science because they want to do ICT and do not see that there is a difference until its too late. Then they cannot change to another subject; they get bored with the ‘Science’ part of it and disrupt the others. This in turn will lower the results and CS gets de-based as a subject.

William Joseph Eyre

03 April 2017

I fear it is the fault of the BCS that the situation articulated by David has come about, as there used to be ICT at GCSE and A levels but the BCS persuaded the Government to do away with these qualifications and replace them with Computer Science. I can understand this at A level, as the use of computers (for spreadsheets etc.) could well be regarded as being not sufficiently academic / too easy at A level. However, it does seem to be a retrograde step to remove ICT at GCSE level, as all pupils need to know how to do word processing, use spreadsheets, etc.

Leonard Keighley

29 March 2017

There is to much emphasis on the 'science' of building computers and not enough on the 'commercial use' of computers. Add to that the concentration on 'digital' which seems to equate to 'apps' and the little education in the world of the 'server' environment, some of which is still running on 80's built code. Leaves us with the 'skills shortage' everyone has heard of but few seem to understand or realise that education might not actually be filling. So I support the addition of a parallel examination as long as it is not just an easier option.

Brian Berry

24 March 2017

From my experience, educators are ill-prepared to prepare students for the world of work. Recent graduates I have encountered have had unrealistic expectations and goals. In my personal opinion, a lot of this stems from the lack of competition in the schools, fear of testing, and giving multiple routes in education. Whilst this may help a student's confidence, I believe, it makes it less likely for them to try anything difficult and does not give them skill-set a student needs. Therefore, I believe another type of test is not needed. Instead, I believe, the culture in schools need to change. It needs to include some competition and challenge students to try something more difficult.

Olivia Tan

07 December 2016

To add to this, students only HAVE to study CS until the end of KS3 (and only as an element of a wider digital curriculum), they will choose whether to continue it on as a GCSE (some schools restrict GCSE CS to students who are predicted B or above in maths, and many schools without this stipulation will still cherry-pick the students for the course).

During the stages which the subject is mandatory any good teacher will differentiate tasks effectively to enable the high flyers and support those who struggle, there will always be mixed abilities in any classroom but we don't stop teaching maths because not everyone in the class can do complex trigonometry. At Key Stage 3 I think whether kids are programming (in a language such as Python) to a high standard, or simply have a rudimentary grasp of if-statements and pseudocode, it's about giving them the opportunity to learn these skills and enhancing problem solving and computational thinking which is a valuable skill at any level. Some pupils will shine through and choose the subject at GCSE, others will obviously struggle and pursue other routes (I agree it would be great if there were other GCSE options for a non-coding route but even at degree level things such as cloud services these are taught as modules of other subjects).

At this stage there is a huge struggle to fill vacancies for CS teachers so an introduction of other subjects e.g. covering cloud services, networking etc. would be put on the back burner while schools fill CS vacancies. I think once CS has become relatively embedded it will be a great opportunity to look at other courses, meanwhile the University Technical Colleges are going a great job of covering some of this stuff from KS4 onwards.

Perry Perrott

06 December 2016

Hi Brian, I feel this is ESSENTIAL, we need to fulfil the needs of the students to give them the skills for employment, this is not about watering down any other qualification or indeed necessarily providing a stepping stone to an IT career but really we are providing the Digital Skills needed for todays developing workforce. We could follow this up with Digital Leadership skills, Digital Media, in fact the scope of the DIGITAL landscape is far wider than the scope of the purely IT landscape and therefore should MITGFS (Making IT Good for Society) actually be MDSGFS (Making Digital Skills Good for Society)? This could then allow the "Computing" element to be delivered in a purer way, focusing on the delivery of Computational Thinking as a core and could be embedded in other subjects such as Maths.