Pupils are to learn about cyber security and how to create programmes such as Facebook or Snapchat as part of a new Computer Science GCSE.
Exam board OCR has unveiled plans for the new course, which will focus on cyber security phishing, malware, firewalls and people as the 'weak point' in a secure system, along with the ethical and legal concerns around computer science technologies.
Computing has been a compulsory part of the curriculum since last September, with an increased emphasis on learning how to create applications rather than using them.
Central to the new GCSE is a greater emphasis on 'computational thinking', which represents 60 per cent of the content. This involves breaking a complex problem down into smaller parts, establishing a pattern, ignoring unnecessary information and designing a solution through programming.
OCR has launched a partnership with specialist education technology company Codio to provide schools with a cloud-based programming and course content platform, which will enable students to learn the theory and apply it in real-life situations in any computing language.
There will also be a greater opportunity for those in teaching jobs to improve their own computer science knowledge and skills - a recent CAS/Microsoft report showed that 80 per cent of computing teachers want more training and support.
An independent coding project will make up 20 per cent of the GCSE, requiring youngsters to solve a real-world problem of their choice - whether developing an algorithm for recommending films, an app to help their teacher or even a game.
The course could prepare pupils for a range of modern jobs, such as joining the security services or developing a blockbuster computer game.
Rob Leeman, subject specialist for Computer Science and ICT at OCR, said: "There is growing demand for digital skills worldwide. Whether students fancy themselves as the next cyber-spook, Mark Zuckerberg or Linus Torvalds, our new qualification will be the first exciting step towards any career that requires competence in computing."
Posted by Theo Foulds