UK exam chiefs: About the compsci coursework you've been working on. It means diddly-squat

But you still have to do it, kids

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GCSE computer science coursework will no longer count toward the final grade after answers to set tasks were leaked online last year.

Exam regulator Ofqual announced that non-exam assessment will not count to the final mark in GCSE computer science in 2018 or 2019. Previously the 20-hour assessment had accounted for 20 per cent of final grade.

However, the body insisted that all UK schools must continue to give students the opportunity within the timetable to complete the tasks.

It made the decision following a consultation, launched after it emerged that some of this year's tasks had been posted to online forums and collaborative programming sites, contrary to exam board rules.

About 70,000 students were entered for the subject last year.

Exam photo via Shutterstock

GCSE compsci kids' work may not count after solutions leaked online

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The body noted that while "not everyone will agree" with its decision, students will all have an equal chance to show their knowledge and skills in the exams. "If we did not make this change and the results this summer were felt to be unfair because of undetected rule breaches, we would not be able to address the issue."

Sally Collier, Ofqual chief exec, said: "While the tasks themselves will no longer contribute to students' grades, we strongly believe that learning about a high-level programming language and having the opportunity to show how it can be used to solve problems is hugely important.

"We believe these changes will make the qualification as fair as it can be for all students."

Since the GCSE was launched in 2013, interest in the course has plateaued. Some 64,159 Year 11 students registered for the computer science exam this year, compared with 60,521 in 2016.

Lack of teaching skills has been blamed for the declining interest in the subject. In the budget, the government said it wants to treble the number of computer science teachers to 12,000 – and will throw £84m to upskill 8,000 compsci teachers.

No doubt the prospect of having to do coursework that won't count for anything will also help students find their love of the subject. ®

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