GCSE Computer Science subject content update

Closes 21 Jul 2024


The proposed updated subject content responds to recent advances in technology, to ensure that students will continue to be taught the computer science knowledge, understanding and skills that will be most relevant to further study or employment in computing and a broad range of other disciplines. It removes, or updates, content which is of increasingly limited usefulness, and also introduces new text in some areas, to improve and clarify the underpinning knowledge required.

Key changes include the opportunity for visual programming languages to be used in meeting the programming requirements, a clarification which confirms that artificial intelligence (AI) must be considered within the teaching of the impacts of digital technologies, greater transparency of the underlying programming knowledge and skills students need to learn, and a general restructure of the content that is designed to aid its coherence and flow. In addition, a new introductory paragraph is proposed to contextualise the study of computer science, and to better represent the subject as an academic discipline.

The opportunity for use of visual languages at GCSE will make it different to the A level, where the use of textual languages is currently the only option. The Department’s view is that students completing the computer science GCSE will have the underpinning programming knowledge, understanding and skills that will enable them to move sufficiently easily onto A level, or equivalent study, based on textual languages. However, we are interested to hear your views on this point.

In essence, the proposed subject content intends to make it clearer what should be taught, avoiding the inclusion of specific examples which are liable to change over time, or unnecessary references to aspects of digital technology which may simply distract from the teaching of the underpinning knowledge, understanding and skills. By updating the subject content, we are ensuring that the GCSE is maintained to a high standard and will continue to support students in progressing to further study, training, or employment in computing and other specialisms.

It is currently projected that a revised draft of the subject content will be published early in 2025, with first teaching from the academic year 2026/27.