Computer Science in the EBacc

Computer Science in the EBacc

by Academy Admin

We have recently published a report making the case for Computer Science to be included as an option in the English Baccalaureate performance measure.

The report was submitted to the Department for Education in Oct 2012. In January 2013 Michael Gove the Secretary of State for Education announced that Computer Science is to be included in the EBacc performance measure. BCS is delighted that this change has been announced. The DfE press release can be found here. DfE have decided to follow the methodology in the BCS report in determining which Computer Science GCSE to include in the EBacc performance measure. BCS has also agreed to provide expert advice to DfE on the suitability of Computer Science GCSE qualifications that were not included in the report. 

On 11 January 2012 at BETT Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove MP signalled a fundamental change in the way Information and Communication Technology and Computer Science are viewed in our education system. In addition to launching a major reform into the teaching of ICT, the Secretary of State also recognised the role of Computer Science as “a rigorous, fascinating and intellectually challenging subject” and set a challenge to the Computer Science community for the future:   

If new Computer Science GCSEs are developed that meet high standards of intellectual depth and practical value, we will certainly consider including Computer Science as an option in the English Baccalaureate.


"Every student should be offered the chance to gain a rigorous Computer Science qualification before they leave school. The UK Government could make this happen by including Computer Science as an option in the English Baccalaureate school performance measure. This will help headteachers realise that Computer Science is foundational knowledge critical for student success in the digital age. As President of ACM, a leading organisation for computing professionals, I know it strongly shares the view of broad student access to rigorous and engaging Computer Science education before university. ACM has worked with other non-profits and corporations to found Computing in the Core, a bipartisan coalition for seeking to strengthen K-12 Computer Science education. These organisations believe that Computer Science should have equal weight in education as other subjects such as mathematics or the natural sciences."

Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google and a Distinguished Fellow of BCS. President of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2004 Turing Award winner and Fellow of the ACM. December 2012

 Main recommendations and findings of the report

  • Computer Science should be included as an optional subject within the EBacc and a new Computer Science EBacc Certificate should be developed as soon as possible. 
  • Computer Science is a distinct science and engineering discipline which, when realised as an appropriate key stage 3 and 4 curriculum, equips pupils with the core knowledge, competency and capabilities to support progression into further education and a professional career. 
  • There are new GCSE qualifications in Computer Science that would easily qualify for inclusion in the EBacc if they were eligible, because they meet exacting standards of intellectual rigour and support progression into further education and a professional career (Section 6). Also, it is feasible and desirable to develop a Computer Science EBacc Certificate qualification that could be introduced at the same time as the other EBacc certificates. This could be developed from any of the GCSE that already exceed our EBacc benchmark.
  • The EBacc was created precisely in order to incentivise schools to offer and resource subjects that the Government considers to be important, and are in danger of being avoided because the subjects are considered too rigorous and challenging (Section 2).  It has been extremely effective in that role. Computer Science is quintessentially such a subject.  It is not just in danger of being neglected: it manifestly has been neglected, to the point where it is starting from a near-zero base.
  • Making Computer Science an option within the EBacc would signal the educational and economic importance Government attaches to the subject, and at the same time give head teachers a concrete incentive to offer and resource the subject, and encourage students to take it.

 The report was produced with the support of an expert group, whose members are

  • Prof Alan Bundy CBE FRS FRSE FREng FBCS; University  of Edinburgh 
  • Andrew Eland; Google
  • Prof Anthony Finkelstein FBCS; University College London
  • Bill Mitchell; BCS (The Chartered Institute for IT)
  • Carrie Hartnell ; Intellect
  • Clare Riley; Microsoft
  • David Braben; co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation
  • David Harper; Google
  • Ian Livingstone OBE; Eidos, Next Gen Skills
  • John Lazar FREng FBCS; Metaswitch Networks 
  • Mark Wakefield; IBM
  • Prof Matthew Harrison; Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Naomi Gummer; Google
  • Niall Byrne; Google
  • Pat Hughes; BT
  • Prof Peter McOwan; Queen Mary, University of London
  • Rhys Morgan ; Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Richard Noble ; Bloodhound Project
  • Simon Humphreys; CAS, BCS (The Chartered Institute for IT)
  • Simon Milner; Facebook
  • Simon Peyton-Jones; Microsoft Research Cambridge
  • Prof Steve Furber CBE FRS FREng FBCS; University of Manchester 
  • Theo Blackwell; Next Gen Skills
  • Vic Rodgers; Double Negative