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Ofqual announces its decision on GCSE computer science assessments

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Today (8 January 2018) Ofqual has announced that the non-exam assessment for GCSE computer science will not count to the final 9 to 1 grade in GCSE computer science in 2018 or 2019. 

However, they have decided that all students taking their GCSE computer science exams in 2018 and 2019 should continue to complete one of the tasks set by their exam board for the qualification. As such, schools must give their students an opportunity to do so and set 20 hours aside in the timetable to allow them to undertake the task. JCQ has released revised requirements for the delivery of the task for GCSE (9-1) computer science in 2018, the details of which can be found here. Students' grades for the qualification will, however, be determined by their performance in their exams alone.

Ofqual has published a statement for students and their parents/carers to help understand the changes to the assessment arrangements, which schools can direct them to or that schools can use as the basis for their own tailored response. You can access this here.

Their decision comes after analysing more than 2,500 responses to their consultation, which was launched, following evidence that some of this year's tasks had been posted to online forums and collaborative programming sites, contrary to exam board rules.

Most respondents agreed there were shortcomings with the current approach to non-exam assessment in GCSE computer science (70%) and 75% thought changes should be made. However, the consultation did not find one preferred course of action among stakeholders, including teachers, students and the exam boards. Ofqual's analysis of the consultation responses can be found here.

Next steps

  • Ofqual will consult with the exam boards on the revised subject level conditions and guidance they will put in place to give effect to these decisions. The rules which cover the taking of the non-exam assessments are set by the exam boards themselves. The exam boards are considering whether to relax their rules and, if so, how. The exam boards will communicate any changes directly
  • Ofqual has not yet decided on the assessment arrangements for the qualification that will apply to students taking their exams after 2019. Ofqual will consult on a preferred approach before they decide on arrangements for 2020 and beyond. If appropriate, they will extend the 2018/2019 approach to 2020.

Ofqual's full statement can be found here.