Exam boards to choose own programming assessments for computer science GCSE

Exam boards will be free to choose how to assess pupils’ programming skills in the computer science GCSE from 2022 onwards, Ofqual has confirmed today.

The practical coursework element of the qualification was removed for pupils taking their exams from 2018 to 2020, after tasks from the test were leaked online and downloaded “thousands of times” in October 2017.

Ofqual announced before Christmas that it was consulting on a plan that would see GCSE computer science become a permanently exam-only subject, with exam boards free to choose how they assess programming skills under exam conditions.

Following 394 responses to the consultation, the exams regulator has confirmed exam boards will be “free to adopt approaches to assessing programming skills by examination that they feel are most appropriate” from 2022 onwards.

“This affords them the opportunity to consult with stakeholders and be innovative in their approach.”

The consultation document says “the approach to assessments allowed under our proposals would mean that boards could implement innovative forms of assessment such as online or on-screen testing.”

Schools and colleges will need to confirm to their exam board that their pupils have been given the opportunity to complete a programming task as part of their course.

Meanwhile the current arrangements whereby schools must set aside 20 timetabled hours for students to undertake a programming task as coursework will remain in place for pupils sitting exams up to 2021. After that, the obligatory 20 hours will be removed.

Sally Collier, chief regulator at Ofqual, said she was pleased to be “encouraging innovation and allowing exam boards to respond to schools and colleges in a way that works for them”.

“Our requirements will allow the programming skills to be effectively assessed and mean that all students will have the opportunity to carry out practical programming work as part of their course,” she added.