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Increasing uptake of computer science

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Increasing uptake of computer science

The growing digital economy in the UK continues to require more high-quality computer science graduates, a need that will not be met without more coming through schools. So what might schools do to encourage take-up? Niel McLean from BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, shares some recommendations

This summer’s GCSE results provided an opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made in introducing computing into the curriculum.

Firstly the good news: since the introduction of the new curriculum, the numbers taking GCSE Computer Science have increased each year with over 67 000 or roughly 12 per cent of candidates taking the exam this summer and the majority of secondary schools entering candidates.

However, there are causes for concern.

Firstly, the scale of the year on year increases since 2013 have not been repeated in 2017, rising by just 10 per cent this year, rather than doubling as in previous years. Secondly, the decrease in numbers taking GCSE ICT, which ends this year, have not been compensated for by the increase in Computer Science entries. Thirdly, the proportion of girls taking Computer Science is far too low.

This matters for two reasons. The growing digital economy in the UK continues to require more high-quality computer science graduates, a need that will not be met without more coming through schools.

More importantly, significant numbers, especially girls, are missing out on the great careers available to them and the opportunities to take an active part in shaping the digital world rather than being shaped by it. If we are to open up these opportunities to more young people, it’s essential to work together to increase the take up of Computer science at GCSE. So what might schools do?

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becky harper
becky harper

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