Computing GCSE gets the green light

OCR’s draft GSCE is due to be submitted to the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation for accreditation next week

Exam board OCR will submit the draft for a computer science GCSE next week.

The computer science GCSE was announced by prime minister David Cameron in December 2014. It is set to be introduced to classrooms across England in September 2016.

The new computing curriculum launched in September 2014 and is compulsory for schools in England. The move was made to encourage students to progress from learning how to use computer applications to creating them.

The GCSE draft focuses 60% of the content on “computational thinking”, which covers breaking down complex problems, establishing patterns, ignoring unnecessary information and designing a system through programming.

The draft focuses heavily on cyber security to ensure students learn about phishing, malware, firewalls and people as the “weak point” in secure systems.

“We have consulted with companies such as Google, Microsoft and Cisco, as well as teachers and higher education academics and organisations such as Computing At School (CAS), to ensure the content is relevant,” said Rob Leeman, subject specialist for computer science and ICT at OCR.

Read more about the computing curriculum

“There is growing demand for digital skills worldwide. Whether students fancy themselves as the next cyber spook, Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates, our qualification will be the first exciting step towards any career that requires competence in computing,” he added.

OCR has partnered with education technology company Codio to provide schools with a cloud-based programming platform, enabling students to learn coding and apply it to situations they might experience at work.

After learning programming, the students will work on an independent coding project, which is worth 20% of the final GCSE. The project will be based on solving a real-world problem, which could include developing an algorithm, building an app or even a game.

“Codio’s mission is to help the next generation to not only consume applications, but to understand the computational thinking and programming skills required to create them,” said Phillip Snalune, co-founder of Codio.

“Accessible anywhere, with software and content covering all the relevant computer programming languages, our unique combination of cloud platform and curriculum content offers teachers, IT technicians and schools the perfect environment to support OCR’s new GCSE specification,” he added.

Read more on IT technical skills