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Computer science coursework will no longer contribute to GCSE grade

09/01/2018 Joanna

Ofqual has confirmed that it will be revising its arrangements for GCSE computer science, with non-exam assessment no longer counting towards the final grade.

This change will come into effect in 2018 and 2019, with the decision having been taken in response to evidence of widespread rule breaches. Last year, coursework tasks were often posted on online forums alongside detailed solutions that were viewed thousands of times.

In response to concerns over cheating and unfairness, the government launched a consultation on potential changes to the rules, with more than 2,500 responses having been submitted. Of these, 70 per cent agreed that the current approach for non-exam assessment for computer science GCSEs had shortcomings, while 75 per cent thought changes should be made.

However, views on what action should be taken were mixed, with no consensus in favour of or against Ofqual's preferred option of non-exam assessment tasks remaining mandatory, but no longer contributing to the overall 9 to 1 grade.

In the absence of a strong consensus in either direction, Ofqual has chosen to press ahead with the change anyway, reasoning that a lack of action would leave the problem unaddressed, depriving students of an equal chance to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in this year's exams.

Ofqual continues to believe that students gain value from completing programming tasks and receiving feedback from their teachers as part of their coursework responsibilities, even if these marks will no longer be formally provided to exam boards.

Sally Collier, Ofqual's chief executive, said: "While the tasks themselves will no longer contribute to students' grades, we strongly believe that learning about a high-level programming language and having the opportunity to show how it can be used to solve problems is hugely important.

"We believe these changes will make the qualification as fair as it can be for all students."

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