Computer Science has been added to the list of core academic subjects that are included in the English Baccalaureate, a key performance measure for English schools.
Recognizing the importance of computer science for the future of both education and the economy the UK government's Department of Education has decided that Computer Science will join Physics, Chemistry and Biology as science subjects that count towards the EBacc.
A year ago the existing ICT curriculum in English schools was ditched on the grounds that it was harmful, boring and irrelevant. ICT remained a compulsory school subject but teachers were free to develop new content and were encouraged to use "the amazing resources that already exist on the web". At the same time Education Secretary Michael Gove said:
If new Computer Science GCSEs are developed that meet high standards of intellectual depth and practical value, we will certainly consider including computer science as an option in the English Baccalaureate.
Over the intervening period there have been influential reports into the delivery of computing education in UK schools.
The Royal Society's Shut down or restart? reported on its Computing in Schools Project and one of its key points was that:
Every child should have the opportunity to learn Computing at school, including exposure to Computer Science as a rigorous academic discipline.
More recently the British Computer Society published "The case for computer science as an option in the English Baccalaureate" with "considered opinions" of a wide range of experts including Microsoft, Google, IBM, Raspberry Pi and the Russell Group university Computer Science departments.
The Department of Education has acted on these recommendations and two GCSE exams in Computer Science, from examining boards OCR and AQA now count towards the EBacc, a development that is intended to give a "concrete incentive" for head teachers to offer and resource the subject, and encourage students to take it. Looking at the syllabus the additional good news is that the GCSEs seem to contain quite a lot of programming.