Computer Science to be included in EBacc

By Sooraj Shah
31 Jan 2013 View Comments
Education secretary Michael Gove

Computer science is to be included as part of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), a performance indicator that measures the percentage of students in a school who achieve grades A* to C at GCSE level in specific subjects.

The EBacc launched in late 2010 amid concerns that there was a decline in the number of students studying foreign languages and science, and therefore a measure was put in place to calculate the amount of students who gain A* to C in English, mathematics, sciences, a foreign language, and history or geography at GCSE level.

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Computer science will now be added to the list of four separate science options in the EBacc. Pupils who sit any three of the four sciences and receive a minimum of a C grade in two of them will fulfil the science requirement for the EBacc.

Currently, the EBacc is mainly used as a measure in school league tables but the government has plans to replace GCSEs in England with a new set of qualifications under the EBacc name.

Microsoft, Google, IBM, BT, Facebook and the British Computer Society (BCS) published a report in November last year that called for computer science GCSE to be included in the current EBacc system.

A Google spokesperson said that the announcement that computer science would be part of the EBacc "marks a significant further investment in the next generation of British computer scientists".

A Department for Education spokesperson added that it would have a big impact on schools over the next decade.

"We need to bring computational thinking into our schools. Having computer science in the EBacc will have a big impact on schools over the next decade. It will mean millions of children learning to write computer code so they are active creators and controllers of technology instead of just being passive users. It will be great for education, great for the economy, and will help restore the spirit of Alan Turing and make Britain a world leader again," the spokesperson said.

Technology firms have long been calling for a bigger role for computer science in education, and the latest announcement comes a year after Education Secretary Michael Gove launched a consultation on his plan to introduce a new ICT curriculum that focuses on programming and computer science to replace the "dull" and "harmful" curriculum that existed at the time.

Gove's announcement last year was generally welcomed by the IT industry, and in August last year, skills champion Ian Livingstone told Computing that he welcomed Gove's announcement.

"It's a statement of intent and now we have to go about implementation, and that's a whole new challenge in itself," he said.

On the latest announcement, Livingstone said:

"Computer science becoming the fourth science on the English Baccalaureate is likely to be transformational for this country. Enabling children to become digital makers as well as digital users is like them learning to write as well as read. From problem solving to writing code, computer science will help ensure that this country produces a new generation of digital makers, not just for the games industry, but for all creative and digital industries, and help drive the economy".

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