Education secretary Michael Gove (above) has announced that computer science will sit alongside traditional science subjects and be added to the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) – though it appears the creative subjects are still out in the cold.
The move comes short on the heels of Gove's decision to scrap the previous 'harmful' ICT curriculum, which was removed last year and will be replaced by a new programme of study focused on computer science.
Going forward, pupils who sit any three of the four separate sciences and get at least a C in two of them will get the EBacc. Therefore, a student taking physics, chemistry and computer science and achieving at least two C grades will fulfil the science requirement of the EBacc.
"We need to bring computational thinking into our schools. Having Computer Science in the EBacc will have a big impact on schools over the next decade," said a Department for Education spokesperson.
"It will mean millions of children learning to write computer code so they are active creators and controllers of technology instead of just being passive users. It will be great for education, great for the economy, and will help restore the spirit of Alan Turing and make Britain a world leader again."
Industry campaign succeeds
There have been a number of calls recently to include computer science in EBacc, including a report by Microsoft, Google, IBM, BT, Facebook and the British Computer Society, which was published in November 2012, saying that the new programme of study should be added.
Currently only GCSEs in computer science from OCR and AQA will count towards the EBacc in performance tables, but if other exam boards develop GCSEs that the British Computer Society and Royal Society think are sufficiently high enough quality, then the Department for Education will include them too.
Schools and pupils are expected to prepare for the changes now for teaching from September 2013.
"Computer science becoming the fourth science on the English Baccalaureate is likely to be transformational for this country. Enabling children to become digital makers as well as digital users is like them learning to write as well as read," said Ian Livingstone, life president at Eidos, Chair of Next Gen Skills and one of the guys who brought us the Fighting Fantasy books in the 1980s.
"From problem solving to writing code, computer science will help ensure that this country produces a new generation of digital makers, not just for the games industry, but for all creative and digital industries, and help drive the economy."
The British Computer Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering published an initial draft of the new ICT programme of study for schools on behalf of the Department for Education in October last year.