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Which 2016 GCSE spec to choose?

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by pickles177, Sep 22, 2015.

  1. pickles177

    pickles177 New commenter

    I am trying to investigate the various GCSE computer science options that are in draft form at present.

    By any chance, have any of you made your mind up about which exam board to go with regarding this yet?

    I would be grateful for anyone's thoughts on this.
  2. Charlie W

    Charlie W New commenter

    I like the look of the Edexcel/Pearson spec' for 2016, but I'm put off by the fact they have no A-level in Computer Science and have no intention of making one.

    We use Eduqas for A-level so will look into their new GCSE instead.

  3. paullong

    paullong New commenter

    I would highly recommend AQA's GCSE in CS. The exam units are based on problem solving rather than lots of dull theory and so it is much more a 'practical' style of course. The NEA (coursework) is board-set and is sensibly reduced to one third to match the fact that it is now 20% and not 60%. It is also being run by competent people who know their subject well and are also good educators.

    Personally I would steer clear of OCR as their NEA is only reduced to 50% and so represents a lot more work for 20% of the assessment. The NEA also requires tons of annotation and death by screenshot of every little thing that was done during development.
  4. Twinklefoottoe

    Twinklefoottoe Senior commenter

    I would avoid AQA at all costs if you want to progress students into the Sixth Form and would prefer the benefits that come with staying with the same board. Look at the AQA A Level and you will see about a 10th of it is to do with Functional Programming, and it is compulsory. Most teachers will never have done FS, it is very difficult for students ICT teachers to understand and little professional training exists. Add to that a good dollop of Pure Maths topics at a very level and you realise you need to be into pain and failure to do AQA, and be willing to give up a lot of free time training yourself and supporting stressed and failing students.

    OCR's support has always been poor, with conflicting advice and muddled resources. The current coursework leaves us with a major headache and I haven't seen any evidence they have become helpful.

    I'd go with Eduqas - extraordinarily sensible, both at GCSE and carrying though to A Level.
  5. ikon66

    ikon66 Occasional commenter

    I was at an Introduction event for WJEC / Eduquas yesterday, seemed very straight forward and I like how they have NEA plus an online practical task using greenfoot and the final written paper
  6. paullong

    paullong New commenter

    Progress from GCSE to A Level is NOT dependent on an exam board. I've taught many courses where students have moved from one exam board at GCSE to another at A Level and it has never been a problem. You have to choose your best fit for each key stage. Don't be restricted by thinking that what you select for GCSE will be what you have to do for A Level - it's simply not the case.
  7. Twinklefoottoe

    Twinklefoottoe Senior commenter

    Of course the exam board selected at GCSE doesn't mean you have to stay with them for A Level. That's patronising that you even come out with such an obvious statement to experienced Heads of Department. What is true is that staying with the same exam board usually means coming across the same people, using familiar procedures and knowing your way around the exam board's little ways. If you are progressing students through to the Sixth Form, AQA is the one to avoid because most students and many teachers will struggle. Looking at their GCSE offering, and knowing first hand what they are like to deal with, EDUQAS is the clear choice.
  8. madcat

    madcat Occasional commenter

    Purely as a matter of interest.
    In your establishment(s) will you expect that students who want to do A level CS will have completed a GCSE CS course ?
  9. i4004

    i4004 New commenter

    I am currently doing Edexcel 2013. Is anyone else struck by the removal from the Edexcel 2016 spec of SQL, HTML/CSS and Assembly language? Is it the case that Edexcel have discovered that they were a little over-enthusiastic in 2013, perhaps not leaving much to be covered at A level?
  10. paullong

    paullong New commenter

    Oh dear looks like one of the trolls is back. Things were looking a lot politer since September but the usual rude behaviour of the likes of mymouse and larathegiraffe seems to have been reincarnated in the form of a body part! (member since 2015 does rather give it away that they are probably one of the old trolls that has been banned and come back again)

    I must apologise that I didn't realise all the people reading this forum were heads of department - I thought it was a general computing / ICT forum and that some people may welcome being given clear information. Sorry that you felt patronised but if you gave out correct information in the first place then there would be no need to clarify what has been said.

    What is still good (in my opinion) is that there are choices of awarding bodies out there and schools can choose what is most appropriate to their circumstances rather than a one-size fits all approach and having this discussion should be a positive debate.
  11. tjra

    tjra Occasional commenter

    I've started to create a spreadsheet which compares all the requirements for each of the exam boards. It's taking a lot longer than I'd anticipated - especially with the little nuances in wording they each decide to use (I'm trying to line up similar sounding concepts so we can see which exam boards ask for topics which others don't). Hopefully others will find it useful - I should have it done by the end of the weekend... (no doubt they'll revamp each spec entirely after I finish!)
  12. gigaswitch1

    gigaswitch1 Occasional commenter

  13. tjra

    tjra Occasional commenter

    Really useful, thanks. Not laid out how I was doing it but wish I'd seen that before I'd done 3/4 of the boards! Mine are all just on one sheet with comparable text alongside each other, so you can see the gaps. Everything mine does can be done by this one... I just don't like the style. I'll probably stop bothering with mine now though!

    Eduqas is the one I'm most tempted by - I'd much rather teach them Greenfoot and Smallbasic than deal with Python for another year. I find a lot of Python is about the syntax rather than the knowledge, and while I appreciate this is important, it isn't as important as the ability to analyse and debug code - especially when teaching low ability students who struggle to spell normally! The only downside for Eduqas is some of the more obscure learning outcomes that the other boards have (eg: RISC vs CISC).
  14. Twinklefoottoe

    Twinklefoottoe Senior commenter

    I completely agree with you, although I don't think Greenfoot is all that easy at all once you have done the basic work in the first third of the Greenfoot book. I taught Greenfoot to grammar school children a few years ago. The brightest got it but most struggled, and I wouldn't attempt using it with Bog Standard students. I like Python but don't like the way exam board requirements don't match the way Python is constructed. It does force students to layout code properly - painful but necessary.

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