Computing education in England’s colleges is going via a revolution, but there may be proof that too few students want to be a part of it.
Figures from the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) display only a modest upward push in college students taking the new laptop science GCSE.
Experts are concerned.
The British Computer Society warns the quantity studying for a computing qualification may want to have by 2020.
The organization – which is the professional frame for the IT industry – says that could be a disaster for the economic system.
The vintage ICT direction, which was the principle manner College students learned approximately computing, is being scrapped, with the closing GCSE entrants taking the examination next 12 months. The problem, which turned into described by using critics as coaching little greater than the way to use Microsoft Office, is being changed with the aid of the greater rigorous PC technological know-how GCSE.
But figures from Ofqual showing entries for the examination rising to 67,800 this year from sixty-one,220 in 2016 have set alarm bells ringing. With fifty-eight, pcsix hundred still taking the ICT exam, the overall number getting a GCSE computing qualification has fallen barely.
The British Computing Society says that once ICT disappears, the computer science examination will fail to fill the space.
“If we do not act now,” says Bill Mitchell from the BCS, “through 2020 we’re probably to peer the range of students studying computing at GCSE halve, whilst it should be doubling. If that happens, it will be a catastrophe for our kids, and the destiny of the nation.”
The different big concern is that too few women are taking up thPCscience examination – in 2016 they made up simply 20% of entrants, even as the parent for ICT has been round 40%.
Prof Rose Luckin says the difficulty has an photo trouble.
“Computer science is seen as more ‘techie’ and it’s miles nevertheless ruled by way of men,” explains the professional from University College London’s Knowledge Lab, who has been researching and writing approximately the teaching of generation for 20 years.
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“Many women consider pc technological know-how and coding is ‘for boys’ and they do now not see applicable career options that attraction to them.”
What seems clear is that the laptop technology examination is a ways more tough, each for college kids and instructors. That turned into of route the intention, but people who warned that ending ICT risked throwing the child out with the bathwater may additionally now experience vindicated.
Drew Buddie, who’s head of computing at a faculty near London, has constantly argued that ICT changed into unfairly maligned and become far greater innovative than its critics assumed.
Now, he says, “it is clean that many 14-to-17-yr-vintage students, in particular girls, are not attracted to such a particular and slim path.”
“The current GCSE in laptop technological know-how has replaced the opportunities for creativity that existed in ICT with set programming duties that have only a few answers,” he provides.
The British Computing Society, which lobbied for the brand new GCSE, insists that it continually argued for a new IT qualification to supplement laptop science, however that was rejected by ministers.
The enterprise says it’s miles unrealistic to expect instructors of ICT to show into instructors of computer technology without huge training and support – and notwithstanding tasks from businesses like Computing At School there has simply not been enough investment to bring in this revolution.
I put some of these criticisms to the Department for Education. A spokesman burdened that the new examination have been designed with industry specialists to develop the computational capabilities wanted for state-of-the-art economy.
He pointed out that the numbers taking it had extra than doubled considering that 2015 and said “we assume that number to hold to upward push even as ICT GCSE is phased out. We are persevering with to work to encourage even more uptake of computer technology, specifically among girls.”
But Prof Luckin says the state of affairs is pressing.
“We want to cognizance on expertise exactly why students are not attracted to laptop technology in order that we are able to make sure an appropriately skilled workforce for the destiny, now not least amongst the coaching profession,” she says.
And she provides that the advent of synthetic intelligence makes this assignment even extra essential.
Five years ago, it regarded just about all of us, from instructors to enterprise leaders to politicians, became in agreement about the need for radical modifications in the manner youngsters were taught approximately computer systems.
But today it’s far hard to locate many that are happy with the velocity and route of the revolution in computing schooling.