The ‘fast-track’ ECDL qualification will be dropped from league tables in 2018 – a year earlier than previously announced.
The move has angered one union boss, who said the government shouldn’t “change the rules” after pupils have started two-year qualification programmes.
The Department for Education announced last month the BCS Level 2 ECDL Certificate in IT Application Skills would be dropped from league tables in 2019 follow concerns over gaming.
The lengthy implementation date meant schools could take the change into account when deciding which subjects year 10 pupils were to study from September 2017.
However updated guidance, published today, has revealed the qualification now won’t be included in 2018 league tables.
Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told Schools Week: “The government shouldn’t be changing the rules part of the way through the game.
“Schools need to know what courses are going to be in the performance tables before youngsters start their programmes. Schools will have set-up a two-year programme of qualifications – and it’s important to know the qualifications that count towards the league table don’t change.”
He said schools may seek to adjust their qualification programmes mid-year because of the change.
Schools face ‘difficult decisions’
Lucy Ireland, deputy chief executive of BCS, the chartered institute for IT which runs the qualification, said the decision will “predominantly affect Year 10 pupils who have already started studying the course” – leaving schools with “difficult decisions”.
She said the company was informed yesterday afternoon of the changes – despite BCS’ representations to the department “outlining our concerns over the potential impact”.
BCS said one option for schools would be to shift Year 10 pupils from ECDL to another alternative qualification included in league tables.
The organisation has commissioned work to “look at overlap with these qualifications”, which it will make available to schools.
Ireland added: “Our initial evaluation does not suggest this will be an easy choice to implement, given the direct impact this will have on pupils and the indirect impact this may have on your school.
“However, we will provide as much support as we can if this is, in your judgement, the best option.”
Schools Week also revealed the number of pupils entering the qualification had soared by nearly 350 per cent in just 12 months.
The Department for Education spokesperson said: “Following a comprehensive review of the ECDL, we concluded that it does not demonstrate the characteristics of a Technical Award.
“After careful consideration we have decided that this qualification will no longer be included in performance tables from 2018 onwards. We are confident this gives schools sufficient time to make alternative arrangements where necessary.
“Pupils will still be able to take this qualification after 2018, and it is for schools to decide whether it is appropriate for them to do so.”