GCSE computer science students increase fourfold

Number of GCSE students taking computer science sees huge spike as new computing curriculum starts to take hold

The number of students studying computer science at GCSE has increased fourfold in 2014, as students celebrate the opening of their exam results today.

Figures released by the Joint Council for Qualifications show 16,773 students sat the computer science GCSE exam in 2014, compared with 4,253 in 2013.

Both genders saw an increase in students, with the number of males rising from 3,640 in 2013 to 14,205 in 2014, and the number of females taking the subject rising from just 613 in 2013 to 2,568 in 2014.

The computer science GCSE has been endorsed by industry experts – including BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT) – and counts towards the English Baccalaureate (EBacc).

Schools reform minister Nick Gibb congratulated all pupils and teachers on the GCSE results, and said pupils and parents can feel increasingly confident the exam system is working in their favour.

"The GCSE subjects they are taking are those most valued by colleges, employers and universities, and will help young people to succeed in modern Britain," he said.

The A*-C overall pass rate has risen from 68.1% in 2013 to 68.8% in 2014. The proportion of girls achieving A*-C grades was 73.1%, while 64.3% were boys.

“An exams system had developed that worked against the best efforts of teachers and the best interests of pupils. These results show our plan for education is correcting that,” Gibb said.

Melissa Di Donato, vice-president of ISV and OEM programs for Europe and Asia-Pacific at Salesforce.com, said empowering future generations to pursue careers in IT has never been more important, as the industry experiences a shortage of software developers.

“Learning to code and motivating students to focus on Stem [science, technology, engineering and maths] disciplines at university is an important step to a career in IT," she said.

However, she warned that this should not just apply to men, and drawing more women into careers in technology is an important part of addressing the skills gap.

“Successful, well-rounded companies need to draw from the entire workforce – and training and education is the necessary first step to creating that skilled workforce. This broad focus will help to enhance the industry in its current state and create a wave of new role models for generations to come,” she said.

From September 2014, the UK national curriculum will require computing to be taught in schools from the ages of five to 16, instead of ICT.


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