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Schools not offering GCSE, 54% in 2017 down to 41% in 2019?

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by binaryhex, Feb 20, 2019.

  1. binaryhex

    binaryhex Lead commenter


    Has anyone else heard and understood the latest rumblings correctly in preliminary results to a follow-up survey to the Royal Society one by Computer Weekly in London recently, that they may be reporting publically soon that whilst 54% of schools didn’t offer a GCSE in Computer Science just two years ago, only 41% of schools are now offering it? And an even more dramatic fall is expected in September, as schools are actively cutting this expensive departmental area right back to save money? I hope I am wrong. I got the feeling Computing was becoming the preserve of private schools but didn’t expect the drop to be so fast and so dramatic.
  2. diddydave

    diddydave Established commenter

    The reference to staff feeling ill-equipped to teach the new syllabus is one I can understand. I was a HOD for IT for 15 years before giving up a couple of years ago. The constant changes in the curriculum driven by changes in the examinations were draining, and I think I had the skill set to understand them.

    However, in my department of 6 we only had one CS specialist (I'm self-taught for the most part) - the rest were excellent teachers who could deliver CS to GCSE level although they were nervous about it and I'd often be called upon to go into their lessons to support on some of it...but when I left we had three applicants for my job and two of those point-blank said they couldn't 'code'. The one we appointed left after a year having been head-hunted by a foreign school and offered a ridiculous package! The CS specialist left for another school.

    Many IT departments have teacher's whose skill sets were developed on the delivery of the end products of using software; websites, animations, spreadsheet models, graphics, databases, project management, presentations, multimedia, video et al. They had no need, or training, for binary, logic, file storage, problem solving or the inner workings of a computer. It's no wonder they cannot get good grades in the new syllabi and SLTs are ditching the courses. My previous school is even ditching discrete IT lessons in KS3. The push to include ECDL on top of everything else added a lot of pressure and we also need to be careful when looking back at the past CS/IT results as that course was the only one offered by some places.

    Checking figures carefully is difficult - your quote looks at it from two sides which makes the numbers look more dramatic. 54% didn't and now 41% do. Well that means it has gone from 54% didn't to 59% don't. A change of 5%.
  3. Dorsetdreams

    Dorsetdreams Occasional commenter

    The article says "There is still a lack of girls choosing computer science GCSEs – only 20% of candidates in the past year were female, and only 10% of female students chose to carry the subject on at A-Level."

    10% of girls? Or 10% of the 20%? What a poorly written article.
  4. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    Cannot stop myself.

    I agree totally with your premise that IT teachers cannot teach Computer Science. It is unreasonable to expect them to teach a subject they know little about.

    If I am looking for a Mandarin teacher, I would not hire someone who knew nothing about Mandarin.
    Schools still recruit people to teach Computer Science who know little about it. The end result is obvious, poor results. It would be unreasonable to expect anything else.

    It is obvious that CS will disappear completely from state schools as part of an overall running down of state education. Teaching CS badly is worse than not teaching it at all.
  5. diddydave

    diddydave Established commenter

    I would qualify that slightly, not all IT teachers can or will want to teach Computer Science and certainly many will be unable to do so without training or time to prepare.

    I am not a CS specialist, maths and sport was my degree but I did, when the move to the IT department was taken, take on an OU degree - but this was funded by myself - and I would be confident teaching it to A level...but it took years, not many schools are going to be able to afford that or even willing to invest in a teacher who can move on.
    agathamorse likes this.
  6. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    So basically, no attempt to have a qualified teacher to teach Computer Science.
    What a joke.
  7. gigaswitch1

    gigaswitch1 Occasional commenter

    Its been 5 years. Old school ICT teachers have no excuses, so stop using it. 1 hour a week in the last 5 years would be 260 hours of CS learning, enough for learning GCSE CS . I think I could learn Maths to GCSE standard in that time.
  8. diddydave

    diddydave Established commenter

    Not sure what point you are making. I would call myself qualified.

    I was also blessed with a department who, whilst not CS specialists, were most certainly qualified teachers - and amongst them were a number of what I call 'pied pipers', staff who commanded immense respect from their students. They could probably have taught Mandarin because they were dedicated enough to learn enough to make sure the students could learn and they were honest and open with students about their own knowledge limitations so that if they came up against a block they'd work through it together. The speed of replacement of IT with CS has meant many won't
  9. diddydave

    diddydave Established commenter

    In many ways I agree with you, one of the best ways to learn a new subject is to teach it - whether your students are going to get good results whilst you are learning it might be relevant. Students reaching GCSE now will have had 11 years, more than half of their learning would have been guided by a different IT/CS curriculum. Whilst I was perfectly happy to fund my own retraining I don't believe many of the teachers qualified to teach IT will have been funded to retrain in the past 5 years. Certain 5, 4 and 3 years ago (when I was still teaching) there didn't appear to be any cash available for them to do so.
  10. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    I disagree. you should learn a subject and then teach it.

    I have met many people who teach CS and make a complete hash of it because their subject knowledge is almost non-existent.

    in my opinion, it takes years to learn a subject to the point that you can teach it well. years. Not a few hours with a beginners python book.

    TEachers should not have knowledge limitations. You seem to see this as a strength. It is not. It is indicative of what has become acceptable and explains why CS results are terrible.
  11. diddydave

    diddydave Established commenter

    Ok, I think you may have missed the part where I said that after doing my first degree I did another computing one with the OU - and yes it did take years. I also agree that we had problems recruiting CS specialists, in three rounds of interviews over 5 years we only had 2 applicants who had CS qualifications.

    I too have come across many who don't have enough subject knowledge but who think they do (one an examiner who would not mark an answer multiplying two variables together as correct because the student had written them the other way round to the example shown in the mark scheme).

    Would I prefer to have 'pied piper' teachers who had the right amount of subject knowledge - of course, but there just aren't that many around. Would I take a pied piper over a specialist who cannot get their knowledge across to the students, then so long as they have the interest and willingness to learn themselves - every day of the week (but again they are thin on the ground too and ideally I'd like to have a budget to allow them time to train in the subject properly). Everyone has knowledge limitations which is part of the reason that AI seems so impressive to many. There is nothing inherently more difficult in CS than in any of the other sciences, imo. If fewer schools are offering the subject is it because they cannot get the specialists or is it because the subject has been relegated to a minor league because its value (to the management not the students) has decreased?
  12. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    I am truly appalled by your answer.

    You accept teachers teaching a subject without the requisite subject knowledge. You accept the inevitable poor teaching. This is precisely why CS is in the state that it is in.

    I know a few words of Mandarin. It seems that you would hire me to teach Mandarin if I had the right attitude. Your disregard for the students is astonishing.

    I have attended 3 interviews for CS teaching jobs where I was the only interviewee with a CS qualification of any sort. One of the jobs was awarded to a MFL NQT apparently because she knew about languages. The HOD admitted happily to knowing nothing about CS as he was a manager.
  13. binaryhex

    binaryhex Lead commenter

    It is shocking but normal.

    Bodies purporting to represent teachers and producing report after report on Computing in schools, training vision after training vision, the way forward after the way forward, are also woefully lacking in expertise of what actually happens in schools with regards to Computer Science, what challenges teachers face, how learning takes place in a computer lab with a large class of mixed ability students etc etc.

    Why? Because hardly any of them on any of their committees is actually a practising teacher now, and has never ever been a practising teacher in a school, most went to private or grammar schools, and most I suspect have only ever seen a mixed ability class in a sink school when they were watching in horror Grange Hill 40 years ago!!!!!
  14. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    Do not get me started on CAS. I have met a few representatives. Disastrous waste of money as far as education goes. Great use of money for individuals who have taken consultancy fees and produced pointless documents.
  15. diddydave

    diddydave Established commenter

    You would not be hired IF I had a better qualified individual but I didn't. Every CS qualified teacher who came for interview got the job (2 in 5 years). In replacing me as the HOD we went through 3 rounds of advertising before we got a suitably qualified candidate.

    Please don't get personal either, you have no idea how I regarded my students or my staff.

    Had you applied for one of the posts at my school you'd probably have been a shoe-in for the job as we didn't have a lot to choose from. I'm shocked that you were overlooked and it's probably indicative of the past realities where senior management could put almost anyone in front of an IT class and expect good results. Going back to the OP's note about the fall in provision this is undoubtedly another factor in its decline.
  16. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    I wonder if this is a regional thing? Most of the schools in my county offer GCSE Computer Science - I'm only really aware of one school that doesn't.

    The upside for me is that, in the last two years, I've only had one ICT student at a time - going back a few years I had to cope with a class of year 11 students doing four different courses.
  17. PersianCatLady

    PersianCatLady Occasional commenter

    I am currently part of the way through a PGCE in Computer Science and I have a BSc (Hons) Computing & IT that I completed in 2017.

    When I started applying to teacher training courses, I was told that Computer Science is a shortage subject and that there would be lots of opportunities for employment once I had achieved QTS.

    However, I am finding that not only is a PGCE / QTS Computer Science not considered to be essential or even desirable for a CS Teacher, neither is a degree in anything computer related.

    I am starting to feel that my knowledge of computing and IT and especially the fact that I have a degree in the subject is more of a hindrance than a help now I am applying for jobs for next year.

    I am beginning to think that I should have trained to teach Maths instead and not felt that I should try and inspire young people to love Computing (especially programming) as much as I do.
  18. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    I haven't applied for a job since Computing was introduced to the National Curriculum, but when (in this and other forums) people describe interview lesson topics and/or questions it does make me wonder whether schools have anyone qualified to appreciate what the candidates are saying/doing.

    My guess is that an SLT observer, for example, might be more impressed by a gimmicky lesson that was topically tenuous than a less-showy lesson that was technically correct. It also seems to be comment to mistake engagement for learning.

    It would be bizarre if a Computing-related degree really were an impediment to getting a Computing job (other than because they really want you to teach something else) - do you get any sense of why?
  19. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    The mindset is that many schools have been teaching CS for years without a subject specialist. Academies can hire anybody to teach anything. Many schools will interview you and offer the job to unqualified trainees and NQTs who are cheap. This is my experience.

    Problem is that many schools teach CS very badly and are actively seeking to remove CS from their GCSE subjects as it is expensive, qualified staff are hard to find and the return on their financial investment, in terms of GCSE passes, is poor.

    I would go teach abroad if I was you.
  20. SundaeTrifle

    SundaeTrifle Occasional commenter

    I have just retired as HoD of computing but can assure you there really is a shortage of recruits with good CS subject knowledge. It’s a brilliant subject to teach and am sure you can look forward to a really rewarding career. Lots of things in teaching are tough but the subject content itself is brill.

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