Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google and a Distinguished Fellow of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, has added his voice to the Institute’s call for computer science to be included in the EBacc. Vint, known as one of the fathers of the internet, added to the discussion following the publication of a new report* from BCS called: “The case for computer science as an option in the English Baccalaureate”.
Vint Cerf said: “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 as important for the future success of their students as other scientific subjects such as maths or physics.”
BCS’ report provides convincing evidence that some of the new GCSEs in computer science require a higher degree of intellectual depth to achieve grade C than is required by some physics GCSEs.
The report is a response to a comment made by the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove MP who said “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.”
BCS and Computing at School (CAS) believe that there is a real risk that all the work done to date to ensure that computer science is included in the curriculum could be in danger if the subject is not included in the EBacc.
Bill Mitchell, Director of BCS Academy of Computing adds: “So much has been put into place to generate interest in the subject and support its development in schools that to not include it in the EBacc poses a real risk.
“The EBacc school performance measure is having a significant effect on what schools focus on, with the number of pupils enrolled on EBacc subjects having doubled from 22% in 2010 to 47% in 2011 (1). Many headteachers in private say although they approve of computer science in principle, they will not willingly give it room in the GCSE timetable unless it becomes an EBacc subject.”
This year has seen several initiatives raise the profile and awareness of the importance of computer science in schools.
Vint Cerf concludes: “There are now rigorous GCSEs in computer science, a new ICT curriculum is being developed at the request of the Department for Education (DfE) that has computer science at its heart, there are new DfE scholarships for trainee computer science teachers and there is a new Network of Teaching Excellence in Computer Science starting to link schools with universities to develop CPD for teachers. Despite this phenomenal progress computer science in school is still embryonic and vulnerable.”
BCS together with CAS have been campaigning for computer science to be included in a balanced, rounded ICT curriculum that delivers digital literacy, information technology and computer science for a number of years.
*The report represents the considered opinions of a wide range of experts from Microsoft, Google, IBM, BT, Facebook, Eidos, Metaswitch Networks, Double Negative, Raspberry Pi and Bloodhound, Russell Group university computer science departments such as Edinburgh, Manchester and Queen Mary, as well as BCS, Intellect, Next Gen Skills campaign and Computing at School (CAS).