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Coding the curriculum: new computer science GCSE fails to make the grade


Despite computing schooling in UK schools going through a large revolution during the last few years to try to make it more relevant to our more and more generation-driven lives, the brand new GCSE in laptop technology has didn’t appeal to a lot interest from students.

Figures from the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) show best a small upward thrust in students taking the new computer science GCSE. This is notwithstanding the course having been rebranded and the old GCSE in information and communication era (ICT) being scrapped.

When the decision to update the ICT GCSE with best a GCSE in computing became made lower back in 2015, many teachers and researchers warned this might occur – given that ICT and laptop science are very distinctive subjects of taking a look at.

There had been also problems raised approximately the brand new route content and the fact that a lot of the point of interest turned into placed on coding and programming – some thing that many college students view as beside the point to them.

My very own ongoing studies interviewing pupils in year 9 about the adjustments in the way computing and ICT are being taught has additionally proven this to be the case. Many of these scholars were frustrated rather than stimulated by way of the shift inside the new curriculum

The British Computer Society has similarly warned that the quantity of scholars reading for a computing qualification ought to have by 2020 – which might be a catastrophe for the financial system.

Not applicable

Computer abilities are already essential to most jobs and this may remain the case, however, what remains uncertain is what form of PC abilities these could be. Education coverage seems to offer the impact that it’s miles extra essential to understand the way to an application a computer than the way to use one well.

Then there may be the problem that what children, in reality, want to understand approximately – such things as cyber safety and the way to remove laptop viruses – isn’t surely blanketed in the new style route. So even as maximum kids are fully aware that the destiny international of labor would require excessive-stage laptop abilities, they do now not see the hyperlink between
being taught how to software in PC languages and what they’ll need in the future.

This confusion isn’t their fault, and quite a few it stems from the reality that instructors who formerly taught ICT are actually being required to educate a few mixture of PC programming, PC technology, computational thinking, and digital literacy, with little education or support.

Each of those areas is taken into consideration to be important expertise in phrases of the “digital financial system”, however, what this means is that pupils are receiving lots of mixed messages on which bits they really need to analyze.

In sensible phrases, this additionally means computing training are actually being cut up among a touch little bit of time spent searching for ideas of ways a PC works, a bit little bit of time on computational theory – together with seek and kind algorithms – and a lot of time learning to program.

Dull and frustrating

Computer programming is difficult. Like learning the violin, or a 2d language, absolutely everyone can do it, but for most, it takes a sizeable amount of willpower, time and practice.

The laptop technological know-how GCSE calls for students to be proficient programmers to achieve success. This has supposed instructors now have to spend a superb deal of time on programming in the 12 months intending GCSE to convey students up to the mark.

Often this is accomplished through a number of tasks, which can be as boring as some thing located in the old ICT curriculum. This leaves many students with the influence that PC technological know-how is programming – and that programming is a dull and frustrating operation of attempting to find wherein you forgot to place a semi-colon. As you may believe, this doesn’t encourage many pupils to need to choose computer technology as an option at GCSE.

From the scholar’s point of view, why would all and sundry who thinks they want to be a mechanic, a health practitioner or an accountant want to spend any time writing applications in code – it simply doesn’t appear applicable to them.

But the aspect is that every of those careers is being transformed via the virtual economic system – as is almost each career. Only supplying a single GCSE choice of PC technology fails to satisfy the desires of any scholar – besides those who have at the least a few hobby in turning into a laptop scientist.

To only provide PC science is like losing all the sciences except physics and being surprised when all those who had formerly taken biology didn’t simply, fortunately, go along with it.Ultimately, if we want to make sure British kids have the skills they want to achieve success and are not left at the back of in a virtual financial system, there desires to a computing curriculum that covers a whole variety of areas – not simply the way to software.

Pupils also need to be spending more than one hour every week – the modern fashionable – gaining knowledge of computing prior to their GCSE years. If this doesn’t change, we are setting the future of the u . S . A . At hazard through disenfranchising many greater younger human beings away from computing based totally careers. And if we want to encourage the next generation of computer scientists, this isn’t the proper way to go approximately it.



Geneva A. Crawford
Twitter nerd. Coffee junkie. Prone to fits of apathy. Professional beer geek. Spent several years buying and selling magma in Miami, FL. Spent a year lecturing about psoriasis in Las Vegas, NV. Managed a small team writing about circus clowns in Las Vegas, NV. Garnered an industry award while writing about lint in the financial sector. Spoke at an international conference about getting my feet wet with dust in Libya. Spoke at an international conference about researching rocking horses in Bethesda, MD.