Some thoughts on selecting CS in GCSE

Jenna Wang | Coding & STEM Training, Computer Science, The EdForum

Recently there have been some discussions around selecting Computer Science in GCSE. Here are some thoughts from Dr. Li …

The new GCSE computer science is a balanced and well-rounded curriculum. Highly recommended for all kids who do not struggle with basic maths (or, likewise, do not struggle with basic language skills).

Prior to join the teaching rank I had some extensive industrial experiences in mathematical modelling and programming. What I could see is that programming/coding is increasingly becoming a must-have skill similar to a natural language (say English) and maths. A natural language enables you to communicate with humans and societies, and maths enable you to think in abstract and models. Computer science (or let’s put it this way, programming) sits right in the middle and joins both worlds, enabling one to put models into real-world use. No doubt that it is now popular with almost every job under the sun.

As to the GCSE CS curriculum, there’s also a fair amount of general knowledge on computing or the ‘cyber’-sides of things but these can really be crammed in less than a week. The lion’s share in the examination, is still programming. Your children will find the coding bit of the curriculum most challenging, while rewarding.

If your children learn CS the right way, it actually helps them to improve their mathematics and physics to say the least. Also we don’t expect every kid to go onto a career at Google or Microsoft, but all of the future lawyers, production workers, doctors, musicians, artists will be expected to have computational thinking skills and know how to script up their workflow adequately using a versatile language like Python. GCSE computer science is set up exactly with the thoughts of that, whereas A-level computing course is still quite focused on people who want to take up CS degrees at uni.