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Ofqual consultation December 2018 - CAS response

Future assessment arrangements for GCSE computer science

John Woollard

Created by John Woollard
last edited Dec 03 2018 by Simon Peyton Jones


In November 2018, Ofqual opened a public consultation into future assessment arrangements for GCSE Computer Science.

The consultation followed an earlier consultation in late 2017, which led to the announcement in January 2018, that non-examined assessment (NEA) would no longer contribute to the grade for GCSE computer science. These arrangements were later extended to students taking their exams in summer 2020.

  • The CAS Assessment Working Group submitted to Ofqual this response to the November 2018 consultation.

    It is agreed by all members that computer programming is an essential element of the GCSE Computer Science experience and, whatever option is adopted, there should be a requirement that all students will design, write, test and refine programs as part of the GCSE Computer Science award.

    On some matters there is no single consensus within CAS. This response therefore reflects the diversity of views among CAS members who have provided substantiated and reasoned argument for supporting a particular position in each of the response areas.

  • During 2018, Simon Peyton Jones and Tim Oates developed the white paper “Non-examined assessment for GCSE computer science”, which they offered as a discussion starter to the CAS Assessment Working Group.

    It argues that practical programming should play a central role in GCSE computer science; but that the best way to secure this central role is by removing the formal assessment of coursework from the final grade. In doing so, Ofqual should ensure that there are multiple incentives for schools to provide well-supported opportunities to do that practical work, and to students to engage with it. The paper draws on evidence from Science, and discusses why the strategy could re-invigorate practical work in computing.

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