GCSE ICT popularity rises, but results decline for first time in history

More students are choosing ICT at GCSE level, but harsh grading overall shows first decline in 24 years

The number of students taking ICT at GCSE level increased in 2012, despite a decline in top grades for the subject and an overall decline in GCSE results for the first time in 24 years.

An estimated 658,000 16-year olds across the UK received their results today. Of those, 53,197 took the ICT exam this year – an increase of 12.8% on last year’s 47,128.

Encouragingly, 23,590 females took the ICT exam in 2012, compared with 21,385 last year. Some 29,607 boys opted to sit this year’s paper, up from 25,743 last year.

Although the number of students taking ICT increased, top grades declined. A* grades dropped across the board, from 9.3% in 2011 to 7.1% this year. A grades also slipped, from 32.1% to 28.7%. The results come amid concerns that students have been unfairly and harshly graded this year to meet government standards.

Due to pressure on examiners from exam regulator Ofqual, harsher grading has been exercised this year. Backed by education secretary Michael Gove as a way to curb inflation, Ofqual has warned exam regulators across the country that they have to justify any results that are notably different to previous years.

ICT classes to be scrapped

Regardless of the increase in ICT students in 2012, the ICT curriculum will be scrapped in schools from September. 

In June, The Corporate IT Forum's Education and Skills Commission condemned the government’s decision to scrap the ICT curriculum. Members of the commission argued that the current programme should be kept in place until a new computer science-based curriculum is introduced in September 2014.

Maths on the decline

Furthermore, the percentage of students achieving A* to C grades for maths dropped by 0.4% to 58.4% this year.

“What this shows is a failure in our education system during the early and primary years to help young people who need the most support," said John Cridland, CBI director-general. "In naths, for instance, there is an alarming drift in the performance of children from poorer backgrounds between the ages of seven and 11, and too few catch up by the time they are 16.

“Improving attainment in our schools is critical to the future success of our economy and society. Raising ambition and aspiration for all should be the focus of our school system. Creating a thirst for learning and delivering a rigorous, meaningful curriculum is a national priority, which needs to be urgently tackled,” he said.

Despite the drop in GCSEs overall, schools minister Nick Gibb said tens of thousands of young people were today reaping the rewards of their hard work over the past two years.

“It is right that we congratulate students on their results and thank the inspirational heads, teachers and support staff that have helped them succeed. They can all be proud of their achievements,” he said.

Photo: Thinkstock

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