The new computing curriculum in English schools: a statistical analysis of student participation

Peter Kemp, Miles Berry, Billy Wong

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review

98 Downloads (Pure)


In 2014 English schools undertook a shift from a mainly ICT based curriculum to one that focuses on computer science. New national qualifications in computer science have been introduced and ICT was subsequently phased out as a qualification in 2017. The question now arises as to whether the students who would have previously taken ICT qualifications are now taking the new computer science courses. Using student data (the National Pupil Database) for all English examinations taken by 16 and 18 year olds, we have been able to profile the student cohorts taking ICT and computing qualifications, as well as the schools offering them. We have analysed the differences between these two cohorts in terms of prior attainment, course outcomes, gender, socio-economic groupings, ethnicity, and geographic spread. We find that there are large differences between the two groups, with the computer science having far fewer female, working class and particular minority ethnic students. Computer science students tend to have achieved better in mathematics than their ICT peers, and there is some evidence that academic selection criteria are being used to restrict entry to some computing courses. We conclude that it is unlikely that all, or even most, students who would have previously sat ICT qualifications will now sit qualifications in computer science. The shift in curriculum and examinations appears to be producing a less inclusive subject with fewer students gaining an IT based qualification.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2017
EventSpecial Interest Group on Computer Science Education - Baltimore, United States
Duration: 21 Feb 201824 Feb 2018


ConferenceSpecial Interest Group on Computer Science Education
Abbreviated titleSIGCSE
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address

Cite this