This consultation follows interim changes we made to the qualification’s assessment arrangements in early 2018. It does not concern the subject content for GCSE computer science, which is set by the government. Programming will remain a key feature of the qualification. Rather, in considering the options for the longer term, our priority has been to ensure the assessments validly assess all of the subject content in a way that contributes towards students’ final grades.
We have discussed with teachers and subject associations the potential ways by which students’ programming skills could be assessed in the longer term.
We have concluded that it is not possible to use non-exam assessment in this qualification to assess programming skills in a way that is manageable, reliable and fair. We have also concluded that exam boards could assess programming skills in different and potentially innovative ways under exam conditions (whereby all students take assessments set and marked by exam boards at the same time, under supervision). Moreover, we think this approach is likely to lead to the most effective development of programming skills, as it allows teachers to adopt the approach to developing those skills they feel is best for their students.