Decline in study of computer science and ICT by GCSE students

A new study by the University of Roehampton has shown that computing in schools is in decline.

Despite Government’s recognition of the importance of digital education, most prominently demonstrated through the new £84million National Centre to improve the teaching of computing, this report suggests that the overall number of computer science and ICT qualifications taken by students at Year 11 has decreased by 45 per cent.

Overall, the number of computer science qualification entries dropped to 175,230 in 2018 from 318,781 a year earlier. With the removal of ICT GCSE in 2018, the report warns that if pupils do not take computer science, it is unlikely they will be getting any computing education beyond the age of 14.

Of particular concern to techUK, who has long called for the UK to invest more in the building of a strong digital skills pipeline, are the remarks of Peter Kemp, senior lecturer in computing education at the University of Roehampton who said:

"It looks likely that hundreds of thousands of students, particularly girls and poorer students, will be disenfranchised from a digital education over the next few years."

A career in tech has plenty to offer individuals from different backgrounds and we need to ensure these opportunity is made available to all. The job creation in our sector continues to far outstrip the supply of people out there, so as we look at building an expanding the skills pipeline we must ensure it is diverse and inclusive. This report should worry us all.

We need to ensure young people aren’t put off at school and are encouraged to see what doors can be unlocked to them by studying computing. If this means revising how this subject is portrayed or investing further to ensure teachers are able to teach it well, then this is an investment that should be made – it is an investment in the future.

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