Over the past few months CAS members have been
expressing high levels of concern about the qualifications landscape at Key
Stage 4. There seem to be four mutually-reinforcing factors:
- The complete withdrawal of the GCSE in ICT.
- The increase in the amount of content in the already-challenging GCSE in CS
- The new more rigorous arrangements surrounding Non Examined Assessment for GCSE CS.
- The dramatic shrinkage in the range of Technical Awards in computing, and their late announcement.
The CAS Working Group on Assessment, chaired by John
Woollard, has been discussing these topics over the last six months, and
recently produced this
Using the working group’s report as the launchpad, John and Simon Peyton Jones approached both the DfE and Ofqual in September to express CAS’s serious concerns about the KS4 qualifications landscape. We shared this short working paper and discussed our anxiety that, left unattended, the “perfect storm” of these four factors may soon begin to inflict permanent damage. Indeed, it is doing so already.
BCS has written formally to the minister Nick Gibb about these issues.
We did not expect the DfE and Ofqual to make any immediate formal response; where high-stakes examinations are concerned, they need to move carefully. However, we were not given the brush-off. We were able to have meetings with relevant officials, who listened carefully and sympathetically to our concerns. We cannot promise anything about outcomes, but we do believe that our voice has been heard, and heard clearly. We expect to have follow-up meetings.
There are, alas, no quick fixes to be had. In
the medium term, though, better decisions will be taken if there is better
communication. Our emphasis is on establishing a constructive dialogue;
at least that dialogue has now started.