Cyber-security will become part of the GSCE computer science curriculum

Cyber-security to be part of GCSEs

Students taking GCSEs in computer science will have to prove their understanding of cyber-security issues, the OCR examination board said, to demonstrate their understanding of major problems related to 21st century technology.

The computer science curriculum, added to GCSEs last year, would include topics such as phishing, malware and firewalls as well as consideration of legal and ethical aspects related to computer technology.

"This specification builds on OCR's pioneering qualification development in this subject area,” said Rob Leeman, subject specialist at OCR.

“We have consulted with companies such as Google, Microsoft and Cisco, as well as teachers and higher education academics and organisations like Computing At School (CAS) to ensure that the content is relevant.”

Leeman said the board’s intention was to address the growing demand for digital skills in the job market by providing a solid educational basis.

Computing has only been a compulsory part of the national curriculum since last year, and the revamp of the GCSE comes after a major overhaul of exams by the previous government which was designed to toughen up qualifications.

Around 60 per cent of the course is based on ‘computational thinking’, which involves breaking down complex problems into smaller parts, establishing a pattern, picking the relevant information and coming up with a solution through programming.

Pupils will also have to use the programming skills they learn on the course to work on an independent coding project worth 20 per cent of the grade that solves a real world problem, such as a game, a method of recommending films or an app to help a teacher.

Former education secretary Michael Gove scrapped the old ICT curriculum in 2012 describing it as ''demotivating and dull'' and in need of a radical overhaul to prepare for the future. It was replaced with a new focus on computer science, including coding.

GCSE computer science now counts towards the Government's English Baccalaureate, which recognises pupils who score at least a C at GCSE in English, maths, science, history or geography and a foreign language.


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