Computer science GCSE will be exam-only until 2020

Computer science GCSEs will continue to be assessed purely on exams until 2020 after tasks from the test were leaked online, Ofqual has announced.

Following its announcement in January that the supervised coursework element of the GCSE won’t count towards pupils’ final grades in 2018 and 2019, the exams regulator has said today that the new arrangements will remain in place for those sitting their GCSEs in the summer of 2020.

It means the first cohort of pupils for whom the non-exam assessment element of the GCSE will count towards their final grade will be those who start their GCSEs in September 2019, begin year 11 in September 2020 and sit their final exams in 2021.

The changes to the non-exam assessment element of the GCSE, which was previously worth 20 per cent of pupils’ overall grades, were approved after Ofqual discovered that tasks and detailed solutions were posted on online forums and viewed “thousands of times”.

In subsequent consultation on the issue  75 per cent of respondents backed changes to the way the tests are run.

Now Ofqual has announced that the outcome of the task won’t affect pupils starting their GCSEs this September, who will sit their exams in the summer of 2020.

Pupils will still need to complete a task set by whichever exam board they are studying under, and may be given a choice of which non-exam task to complete, but it will not be formally marked.

Schools and colleges will be required to confirm to their exam board that they have set aside the required amount of time for students to complete the task.

“The tasks support the curriculum requirements for the course, notably the opportunity to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills involved in programming,” Ofqual said.

Computer science teachers will be given the opportunity to provide feedback on the new arrangements and to consult on any proposals for the longer term later this year.

Sally Collier, Ofqual’s chief regulator, said: “We want to give teachers early notice of this decision so that that they can begin preparations ahead of the summer.

“We hope that this confirmation is helpful for schools and colleges in planning for the next academic year.”