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31 March 2022

Vocational Computing Qualifications: BCS Landscape Report

Pete Dring profile image
Written by

Pete Dring | Secondary School Teacher (11-18)

The recently published BCS landscape review gives a helpful but sobering overview of the current situation and the challenges ahead for Computing related qualifications in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The main focus of the report is on GCSE and A level qualifications but one thing that struck me was that the most popular vocational qualifications (such as iMedia) were considered outside of the scope of the report

“There are other computing related vocational technical awards such as OCR Level 1/2 Cambridge National Certificate in Creative iMedia which are not categorised by DfE as Information and Communication Technology and therefore fall out of the scope for this report.

However, a significant number of candidates take related qualifications such as these, in 2021 more than 42,000 candidates took OCR Level 1/2 Cambridge National Certificate in Creative iMedia, which is categorised in Arts, Media and Publishing. Schools' reasons for offering these alternative qualifications warrants further investigation” source

Do you offer a qualification like this at your school? If so, do you offer it as well as a GCSE in Computer Science or instead? Do you offer it as well as a vocational qualification formally classified as being in the IT category or instead?

Personally I really like these 'media' style qualifications because they're visually creative and tend to be more accessible and attractive to and appealing to a wider demographic than GCSE CS. My school offers iMedia alongside GCSE Computer Science: students can choose both, neither or either and they complement each other very well with very little overlap of content.

If we reclassified these qualifications as computing qualifications we'd instantly (nearly) double the number of students who take a computing qualification and radically improve the gender balance stats.

However, I suspect that if we reclassified these qualifications as computing qualifications they wouldn't be included in the list of approved qualifications that count towards DfE performance measures which is very frustrating.

Has perceived rigor in Computing become more important than the need for accessibility, creativity and diversity? If so, how do we challenge that?

The UK’s Creative Industries contributed over £115 billion into the economy in 2019 and I think it’s essential that we build on this huge area of creativity and growth by making sure that the qualifications available to young people in school feeds the talent pipeline of the future.

I love teaching Computer Science at GCSE and A Level but Computer Science is only one part of the wider subject of Computing, alongside Digital Literacy and Information Technology. I’d really like to see a greater breadth of opportunity for students to explore vocational pathways into creative industries within the broader subject of Computing.

Do you work in the creative industries? What qualifications and experience do you value from prospective employees?

Do you teach a media related course? What would an ideal creative computing qualification look like?

The newly designed Computing At School forum is a great place to share ideas, resources and continue the discussion. I’ve love to find out what you think.


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