There is now the sole requirement to ensure candidates have been given the opportunity to design, write, test and refine program(s) to a brief, or briefs. There is no set task you have to complete. There are no requirements to record time logs, or to send samples of work to OCR. You will still need to submit an annual declaration of compliance (a Practical Programming Statement), as outlined in the specification.
Candidates will continue to sit two examinations - Component 01 and Component 02. Each exam lasts for 90 minutes and is worth 80 marks. The papers are weighted equally.
We have held extensive engagement opportunities with teachers. We have spoken to hundreds of teachers since the Ofqual consultation was announced at the end of 2018. All engagement, through questionnaires, forums and meetings has fed into the way we updated the J276 specification. Your feedback was invaluable and we are very thankful to all those who participated.
An initial consultation launched by Ofqual into the non-examined assessment (NEA) component of all GCSE Computer Science qualifications, led to a decision by Ofqual to remove the NEA from the assessment of J276 Computer Science. This led to a temporary arrangement being put in place – the Programming Project. Following a further consultation, Ofqual decided that the assessment of practical programming skills should be part of the external assessment.
The latest updates resolve this issue and will provide stability in the structure and course delivery.
Computer Based Testing (CBT) was initially viewed as favourable by some centres. However, because the assessment must be timetabled, on reflection the same teachers felt that CBT would create administration and resourcing challenges which teachers and schools would not, in general, be able to mitigate.
Based on this evidence and feedback, and our internal discussions, we decided to therefore not implement CBT. However, we are committed to further CBT research to investigate the possibility of CBT in the future.
The first examination for J277 is Summer 2022. Therefore, current Y9 candidates will be the first the sit the new examinations. If you have a 3-year GCSE course, then you will need to start using the J277 specification from September 2019. If you run a 2-year GCSE course, then Y10 September 2020 will be first cohort to start the updated J277 specification.
We took an opportunity to update the subject content sub topic 1.6.1 ‘legislation relevant to Computer Science’ on page 14 of our updated specification J277. We have included the Data Protection Act 2018 instead of the Data Protection Act 1998 (as in J276) to make sure that the GDPR remains up to date.
We appreciate that GDPR is a huge area and that is why our update to the specification is limited to the Data Protection Act (DPA) and what that covers. Learners must have the knowledge of the impact of DPA 2018 law in computing related issues as compared to the DPA 1998 (legacy law). DPA 2018 is the UK equivalent to the European GDPR.
We would not expect a candidate to know all of the rules and regulations, but more the concept and the impacts it has on digital technologies.
We have made small changes to the content for three reasons:
Due to the requirement to test candidate's ability to design, write, test and refine programs in an examination, we had to add some specification content that was otherwise implicitly tested within the Programming Project.
This meant that the Component 02 exam was unbalanced in content, compared to Component 01. We therefore moved Data Representation into Component 01.
As we had introduced more content into the specification, we decided to remove some as well, to help keep the overall content covered at a similar level.
We are commissioning a full set of Practice Papers which will be held securely behind Interchange. This will allow teachers to pose an 'unprepared' mock examination. Because content between the two specifications is so similar, ExamBuilder continues to be able to provide a wide range of exam questions for students.
Component 01 remains in a similar format/structure as the J276 examination for Component 01.
Component 02 is now split into two sections. Section A has an identical feel to the J276 Component 02. Whilst Section B will still feel similar, it is designed to specifically test a candidate's ability in designing, writing, testing and refining programs. This section is designed to reflect as far as possible their classroom experiences.
Our assessment meets the requirements set out by Ofqual in the GCSE Subject Level Conditions and Requirements for Computer Science. This states that assessments must require candidates to demonstrate their practical programming skills using a high-level programming language
Candidates who have experienced programming in the classroom should be familiar in both reading and responding in a formal and precise style.
They laid out three formats for response. Pseudocode (flexible and informal), Reference Language (structured, formal and used to express questions/responses) and writing in a high-level programming language.
Some of our questions in Component 2 Section B therefore require a level of precision in candidate's answers. These are clearly marked.
See our Assessment Story: exploring our question papers brochure for further details.
Yes, we will be creating a Scheme of Work in due course.
We are looking to develop more engaging resources to promote programming within the classroom. We will update you on these as they are developed. Programming is a vital part of J277 and we will continue to support you in the delivery of this.
We will be aiming to update all the Teacher Delivery Packs on a 'priority' basis. Those which need the most editing will be done first. We are aiming for all Teacher Delivery Packs to be updated for Sept 2020 first teach.
Absolutely. The best way to deliver most of the content in Component 02 is through practical experience of programming (and it is a requirement that all students have the opportunity to engage in practical programming).
We believe that there will be minimal impact to your teaching. We will providing a Scheme of Work and resources will be updated. As most of content is remaining the same, there will be no significant change to the understanding needed to deliver J277. We will also be providing a cross mapping document to aid you with your delivery.
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