Government urged to act over computer science GCSEs

From BBC - November 9, 2017

More than half of England's secondary schools, 54%, did not offer GCSE computer science in 2015-16, a report from the Royal Society has found.

It urged the government to increase spending on computer education tenfold over the next five years to ensure youngsters can "unlock the full potential of new technologies".

The biggest issue was the lack of skilled teachers, the report found.

The Department for Education said more pupils were choosing the subject.

"We want to ensure our future workforce has the skills we need to drive the future productivity and economy of this country and that is why the government made computing a compulsory part of the national curriculum," said a spokesperson.

"Computer science GCSE entries continue to rise more quickly than any other subject.

"We recently saw an increase in entries to Stem subjects [science, technology, engineering and maths] for the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) and the number of girls taking Stem subjects at A-levels has increased by over 17% since 2010.

"Since 2012, the department has pledged 5m to the Network of Teaching Excellence in Computer Science programme, which has built a national network of nearly 400 computer science specialists (who) schools can commission to provide bespoke training for their teachers."

Computer science in numbers

The Royal Society, the UK's independent scientific academy, is concerned about how the lack of computing expertise will affect the future workforce.

Prof Steve Furber, who worked on the report, said:"Computing teachers have told us that they feel the government rushed in a new curriculum without giving them the support or money to deliver it.

"The report paints a bleak picture in England, which meets only 68% of its computing teacher recruitment targets and where, as a result, one in two schools do not offer computer science at GCSE, a crucial stage of young people's education."

He added that, "overhauling the fragile state of our computing education" would require an ambitious, multipronged approach.



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