Whappened, Mr Gove? What does this week’s backtracking mean for Computer Science?

I suspect that many of you, like me, have been super-confused about the recent announcements by the DfE and Gove, repealing a load of decisions around exams and the EBacc. All I really wanted to know was what does this mean for computer science and the curriculum – well that and general confusion over my daughters’ exams, but let’s focus on CS.

Today I received an email from Theo Blackwell at Next Gen Skills, a wonderful man working with Ian Livingstone et al (and lobbying hard for this) explaining it. I thought I would share the salient point here to assist the baffled (myself included)

English Baccalaureate
There has been some confusion in the press about the English-Baccalaureate and English Baccalaureate Certificates (EBCs).  EBCs, according to today’s announcement, have been scrapped not the English Baccalaureate as a performance measure. 

Computer Science is still counted as one the E-Bacc performance measure options, which is what was announced last week and what we campaigned for.  This counts how many pupils have obtained a grade C or above in a range of GCSEs and Computer Science now counts as one of those options.
This means Computer Science GCSE now contributes to the success rate of a school, which is why it was so vital that it was included.

Computing replaces ICT on the National Curriculum
The ICT has been scrapped on the curriculum…  Reform of ICT was a key demand of Next Gen Skills – Recommendation 1 – it will now be replaced with a Computing Programme of Study, with computer science principles at its core and replacing the ICT brand.  

I hope this helps

A very great week for young programmers in the UK

Two important and wonderful things happened this week:

1. Google donated 15,000 Raspberry Pis to schools across the UK

2. Today it was announced that Computer Science will be included in the new English Baccalaureate (EBacc)

Much of this achievement is down to relentless campaigning and education by groups such as Computing at Schools, Next Gen Skills and a large number of dedicated individuals: too many to mention here. We should be proud of these things happening, but let’s not wipe our hands of this problem just yet.

We need to focus our attention on the junior school children, Year 8 is Too Late in my opinion and even with the impetus of the EBacc computer science course we need to introduce ‘computeracy’ in junior schools across the land: let the 7 year olds have fun, break stuff, play and enjoy exploring the potential of computers and the digital renaissance. Bring back the What if? questions, What would happen if I…?

I know that there is a while yet before the decision is taken as to which schools will get the donated RPis, but it would be really wonderful if they were only given to junior schools, bringing an excuse to the classroom to discover the potential and joy of computers, in the same way the BBC Micro gave all us oldies hours of code-y fun in the 80s. I suspect that this would see a far greater take-up of the EBacc as those children move into senior school.

All that aside, what a brilliant week for young people in the UK?

A version of this opinion piece is in the Education section of The Telegraph