New Computing GCSE to prepare students for 21st century

 According to a Government Select Committee Report 'The UK’s Digital Future' 35% of today's traditional jobs could within the next two decades be obsolete[1] - posts which according to The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) will by 2022 be replaced by jobs that require digital skills[2]. From September 2016, a new Computer Science GCSE proposed by exam board OCR, will be introduced into classrooms supported by Codio, the cloud-based coding and content platform, and will be designed to equip today’s students with the skills they require to thrive in the 21st century digital economy.

Split into three sections, the new GCSE will feature modules on ‘Computer Systems’ and ‘Computational thinking, algorithms and programming’, both worth 40% of the final grade, and a practical programming project worth 20% where students will 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.

A notable feature of the GCSE is the focus on cyber security. Students will learn about system security – phishing, malware, firewalls and people as the ‘weak point’ in secure systems, for the first time at GCSE Level, as well as ethical and legal concerns around computer science technologies. There will also be a greater emphasis on ‘computational thinking’, which involves breaking a complex problem down into smaller parts, establishing patterns, ignoring unnecessary information and designing a solution through programming.

Through collaboration with OCR, the Codio platform has been tailored to support these new requirements and aims to make teaching the GCSE specification easy for even less-confident teachers. It comprises a cloud-based Integrated Development Environment and coding platform (including servers and storage) where students can learn the theory and apply it in real-life situations. All software languages are pre-configured to enable students to focus on problem solving and designing their programs, and to save schools painful administration and set-up time.

Curriculum-mapped course content co-developed with OCR means that teachers can be confident that the resources are relevant and will support their lesson plans. Soon to be released built-in assessment tools – including multiple choice questions, or broken code needing to be fixed – auto-mark and provide a clear breakdown and tracking of student progress. Furthermore, Codio allows for self-paced learning, enabling teachers to play a more facilitative coaching and mentoring role, whilst remaining confident that the students’ work is always aligned to the GCSE objectives.

To make lessons easier for teachers as they get to grips with the new GCSE, Codio also offers school organisation options – by integrating with a schools’ VLE system, teachers can easily set up accounts for their students and organise them however they wish. Teachers can then assign modules and coursework to specific student groups, then track and monitor progress.

Phillip Snalune, Co-founder of Codio commented: “Codio’s partnership with OCR delivers the vital support the UK Computing teacher community needs, through best-in-class technology, curriculum-mapped course content and extensive teacher support, to enable teachers to deliver the new GCSE Computing specification with confidence.” 

Rob Leeman, Subject Specialist for Computer Science and ICT at OCR, said: “This specification builds on OCR’s pioneering qualification development in this subject area. We have consulted with companies such as Google, Microsoft and Cisco, as well as teachers and higher education academics and organisations like Computing At School (CAS) to ensure that the content is relevant.

He continued, “There is growing demand for digital skills worldwide. Whether students fancy themselves as the next cyber-spook, Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates, our new qualification will be the first exciting step towards any career that requires competence in computing.”

Teachers can find out more about the Codio support at  

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