Thousands sign petition against abolition of GCSE and A-level ICT

Nearly 9,500 people have signed a petition to stop the GCSE and A-level ICT qualifications from being scrapped.

Thousands of teachers and pupils do not agree with the Department for Education’s decision to abolish the qualifications from September 2017.

The disclosure was buried within a wider consultation document released last month calling for views on the development of content for both GCSE and A-level.

After the announcement, a number of teachers sent letters to the DfE and an official Parliament petition was launched against the move.

The petition, which has already attracted more than 9,400 signatures, says: “This is a bad decision that will drastically narrow the curriculum for children aged 14-18. It will particularly affect girls, who are far more likely to choose to study ICT than computer science.”

The DfE insists that computer science will give students the skills needed for the future – but many teachers disagree with this statement.

Kay Sawbridge, faculty leader for computing and ICT at Caroline Chisholm School, in Northampton, told TES: “ICT teachers are very concerned. We have really good students that use the IT skills they have learned at university and in jobs; it is essential to them. It could create a generation of students who will leave school and not have the skills that employers are looking for.

“The DfE will say that IT can be done in other subjects but I don’t know any teachers who have time to teach proper ICT skills on top of their own subjects.”

Official figures show that more than 111,000 students sat ICT GCSE in the summer, while just 35,000 pupils sat the computing GCSE. Some 47,000 female students took the ICT GCSE, but only 5,000 girls took computing at GCSE.

Ms Sawbridge added: “There will be a gender divide as girls are less engaged by computing. You can’t force girls to do it. It’s dangerous to create a curriculum which is divided.”

A DfE spokesperson said: “These rigorous new computer science qualifications, backed by industry experts, will give pupils the skills they need to progress to further study and a range of top jobs.

“We want to encourage more pupils to study this new high-quality course. The inclusion of computer science in the EBacc reflects its rigorous academic standards and entries have more than doubled in the last year alone, demonstrating the increasing popularity of the subject. It is no longer necessary to redevelop further qualifications in the same space and pupils will no longer be able to start IT GCSE or IT A-level from September 2017.”

The government will respond to the petition at 10,000 signatures and if it reaches 100,000 signatures it will be considered for debate in Parliament.

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