British Computer Society loses £3 million as schools shun controversial ECDL qualification

The company behind the controversial European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) has lost £3 million in income after the government scrapped the qualification from performance tables.

Company accounts for the British Computer Society Learning and Development, which delivers the level 2 qualification, reveal a 10 per cent drop in income during 2016-17, from £29 million to £26 million last year.

It was blamed on the “slowdown in growth in the schools’ market” after the government stopped the ECDL qualification counting in the ‘optional bucket’ for Progress 8 this year.

The ECDL was a cash cow for the BCS

This followed investigations by Schools Week which revealed some schools were teaching it in just three days, and that pupil entries had soared by nearly 350 per cent from 2015 to 2016.

Data experts at Education Datalab revealed that, on average, pupils taking the ECDL achieved 52 points – the equivalent of an A grade – in 2015, while scoring an average of 38 points – below a C grade – across all their GCSEs.

Bob Harrison, who chaired an advisory group to the DfE on computing in 2013, accused BCS of using the qualification as a “cash cow” that was picked up by “schools gaming the system”.

However a BCS spokesperson said the ECDL provides an “understanding of the basic skills and competencies necessary to use a computer”.