GCSE computer science assessment arrangements

Students studying GCSE computer science from this September will be assessed by exam only in 2020

Revised assessment arrangements for GCSE computer science will continue for the 2020 exam series, Ofqual announced today (Friday 20 April).

At the start of this year, and following consultation, we changed the assessment arrangements for GCSE computer science. We announced that, for students taking exams in 2018 or 2019, their grades would be based on their exam performance alone. We changed the arrangements because of evidence that the confidentiality of at least some of the tasks required by some of the exam boards had been compromised.

We are now advising teachers that the same arrangements will stand for students who start studying the subject this September and take their exams in 2020. They will be formally assessed only by exam. These students must still complete a task set by their respective exam board, but this will not be formally marked.

Students may be given a choice of which non-exam task to complete by their exam board. The tasks support the curriculum requirements for the course, notably the opportunity to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills involved in programming. Schools and colleges must, therefore, confirm to their exam board that they have set aside the required amount of time for students to complete a task and given them the opportunity to do so.

Teachers will be able to use the non-exam task to consolidate students’ understanding and programming skills in a practical context. While the exam boards might change the conditions under which the task is completed and/or give a greater prominence in their exam papers to questions drawing on students’ programming experience, students’ grades will be based on their exam performance alone.

Sally Collier, Chief Regulator, said: “We want to give teachers early notice of this decision so that that they can begin preparations ahead of the summer. We hope that this confirmation is helpful for schools and colleges in planning for the next academic year.”

In our decision on the assessment arrangements for 2018 and 2019 we explained we would consider options for the longer-term that would support the curriculum intentions and provide a valid means of assessment. As well as considering the feedback on longer term options we received in response to our consultation, we are gathering more input and evidence from stakeholders on this issue. We will also evaluate how the new arrangements work in practice and consider how the arrangement for GCSE computer science fits in with the UK Digital Strategy.

Later this year, we intend to invite computer science teachers to provide feedback on the new arrangements and to consult on any proposals for the longer term. This extended timetable will allow us to consider a full range of options.