25% ICT GCSE spike first in eight years

The number of candidates sitting the ICT GCSE exam rose 25% in 2013, comprising the first such increase since 2005

GCSE candidates received their results across the country today (23 August 2013), with a sharp increase of 25% in candidates choosing to sit the ICT exam.

According to the Joint Council for Qualifications, ICT GCSE entries rose to 87,788 candidates sitting the exam in 2013, compared with 70,420 in 2012. This is the first time the number of ICT candidates has risen since 2005.

However, the proportion of female candidates decreased, from 46% last year to 44% in 2013. But female candidates who sat the exam achieved higher grades this year, as 30.9% of female candidates achieved an A* or A grade, compared with 23% of males.

ICT students did well overall as only 21.3% of all GCSE subjects received an A* or A.

Karen Price, CEO of e-skills UK, said: “We’re delighted to see that ICT GCSE has increased in popularity. Our employers know how important it is that young people acquire the digital skills to play a full part in today’s world and to take up rewarding and fulfilling jobs.

“However, we know from our work with teachers and young people that the curriculum could do so much more to excite young people and inspire them to continue their technology education. Last week’s fall in Computing A-level entries shows the danger of complacency.”

Sue Nieland, e-skills UK’s director of education, agreed: “Employers have worked with us to develop engaging and enriching GCSE curriculum materials that give young people a real insight into the world of technology and its fundamental role in business success.

“The feedback we’re getting is amazing – this type of curriculum really chimes with young people’s desire to learn and their entrepreneurial spirit. We’ve already got over 200 schools involved and we are looking forward to engaging many more.”

Marking and grade boundaries

For the second year in a row the number of pupils achieving A* to C grades has fallen 1.3% on last year’s figure of 68.1%, making it the biggest fall in 25 years. A* grades awarded fell 0.5% on last year from 7.3 to 6.8%. The drop has been put down to harsher marking and shifted grade boundaries.

Martin Gollogly, director university alliances programme at SAP UKI, said: “Although there have been reports of harsher marking this year, students collecting their GCSE results today should be thinking practically about their next steps in education and work.

“Much has been done to promote Stem [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] subjects in early education but the focus remains on core subjects, with the emphasis on spelling and grammar, in particular, and basic technology skills despite the access to high-end technology. While skills in these areas are vital for future employability, practical experience will ultimately help to secure jobs.”

However, Geoffrey Taylor, head of academic programme at SAS, said: “As the students receiving their GCSE results today think about the next step, we should be educating them on the benefits of including at least one Stem subject in their A-level choices. 

"Those not following the A-level path should be encouraged to seek out apprenticeships with the organisations at the heart of the digital economy.”

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