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

 

Despite computing schooling in UK schools going through a massive revolution over the past few years to attempt to make it more relevant to our more and more tech-driven lives, the brand new GCSE in computer science has failed to entice plenty interest from students.

Figures from the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) show best a small upward push in college students taking the new laptop technological know-how GCSE. This is notwithstanding the publications rebranding and the old GCSE in records and conversation generation (ICT) being scrapped.

Experts anticipated the computer science GCSE might no longer paintings as a replacement for the ICT which become scrapped in 2015 as they are very one of a kind subjects.

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Among path content problems raised turned into the focal point located on coding and programming – something that many college students view as beside the point to them.

My very own ongoing research interviewing pupils in Yr 9 approximately the changes within the way computing and ICT are being taught, testifies to this. Many of those scholars are annoyed in preference to inspired by the shift in the new curriculum

 

Waste of time? Many students dispose of by the coding additives of the new computing science GCSE (Pixels)
The British Computer Society has similarly warned that the variety of pupils reading for a computing qualification should have by 2020 – which could be a catastrophe for the economic system.

Not relevant

Computer abilities are already crucial to most jobs and this can continue to be the case, however, what continues to be unclear is what sort of PC abilities those will be. Education coverage appears to present the impression that it’s far extra vital to know the way to program a computer than the way to use one nicely.

Then there may be the issue that what kids simply need to recognize approximately – such things as cyber protection and a way to get rid of laptop viruses – isn’t surely protected in the new fashion direction. So while most youngsters are fully aware that the future global of work will require excessive stage laptop competencies, they do now not see the hyperlink between being taught how to program in computer languages and what they may need in the destiny.

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This confusion isn’t their fault, and quite a few it stems from the reality that instructors who previously taught ICT are actually being required to educate some combination of PC programming, PC science, computational wondering, and digital literacy, with little education or aid.

Each of those areas is taken into consideration to be vital understanding in phrases of the “digital economy”, but it means students are receiving quite a few blended messages on which bits they really want to study.

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Insensible phrases, this additionally manner computing instructions are now being cut up among a bit bit of time spent searching for principles of how a PC works, a bit bit of time on computational concept – which include sleek and kind algorithms – and quite a few time mastering programming.

Dull and irritating

Computer programming is tough. Like learning the violin, or a 2d language, everyone can do it, but for maximum, it takes a large amount of determination, time and exercise.

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Inside out: the brand new GCSE is great ideal to the minority of students who wish to be pc scientists (Pexels)
The laptop science GCSE calls for scholars to be proficient programmers to achieve success. This has supposed instructors now need to spend a awesome deal of time on programming in the year proceeding GCSE to deliver scholars up to speed.

Often that is done thru some of duties, that are as uninteresting as whatever determined in the vintage ICT curriculum. This leaves many students with the influence that computer technological know-how is programming – and that programming is a dull and irritating operation of trying to find wherein you forgot to position a semi-colon. As you can imagine, this doesn’t encourage many students to need to pick out PC technology as an option at GCSE.

From the student’s point of view, why might all people who thinks they need to be a mechanic, a physician or an accountant want to spend any time writing programs in code – it just doesn’t seem relevant to them.

But the factor is that every of these careers is being converted through the digital economic system – as is sort of every profession. Only presenting a unmarried GCSE alternative of PC technological know-how fails to fulfill the wishes of any pupil – besides people who have at the least some hobby in becoming a computer scientist.

To handiest offer computer technology is like losing all the sciences except physics and being surprised when all folks that had previously taken biology didn’t simply fortuitously go with it.

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Ultimately, if we need to make sure British kids have the abilties they need to achieve success and are not left at the back of in a digital economic system, there desires to a computing curriculum that covers a whole range of regions – now not simply the way to program.

Pupils also want to be spending more than one hour per week – the cutting-edge fashionable – mastering computing previous to their GCSE years. If this doesn’t alternate, we are setting the future of the country at threat with the aid of disenfranchising many extra young humans faraway from computing-based careers. And if we need to encourage the subsequent technology of computer scientists, this isn’t the right manner to head approximately it.