Delivering GCSE Computer Science from September 2014

13 February 2014

GCSE Computer Science is a new qualification from Edexcel. Our exciting and forward-looking GCSE is distinguished by content based on the Computer Science curriculum developed by the Computing At School (CAS) working group and an assessment model that tests learners' computational thinking skills.

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Content for the GCSE Computer Science is based on, and fully mapped to, the Computer Science curriculum developed by CAS's working group. It aims to promote knowledge and understanding of the fundamental principles and concepts underpinning Computer Science, and to encourage learners to develop and be able to apply computational thinking skills to analyse problems and design solutions.

Assessment model

The assessment model is a 2-hour written exam, worth 75%, and a 15-hour Controlled Assessment worth 25%, which gives you extra time to deliver the course. The written exam doesn’t just test knowledge and understanding, it also tests learners’ ability to apply the programming and problem-solving skills they have developed. Computational thinking skills are key to this qualification and account for up to 65% of the marks available across the two assessment components.

The Edexcel GCSE in Computer Science has also been recognised as part of the EBacc and will count as a science option in the EBacc measure in secondary school performance tables.

This update is designed to welcome colleagues teaching GCSE Computer Science in September 2014 and to highlight the various ways in which we can support you.

Delivering GCSE Computer Science for the first time

When teaching GCSE Computer Science there is no need to register your learners in advance. This means you can begin teaching the course immediately! To get yourself up to speed on the qualification, feel free to watch the presentation I gave at Bett.

To make sure we keep you up to date with relevant news on GCSE Computer Science, you can sign up for my Subject Advisor updates by emailing

Support for the written exam – Principles of Computer Science

The written exam, Principles of Computer Science, is a two-hour paper which makes up 75% of GCSE Computer Science. You can access the sample assessment material, which includes a written paper and its mark scheme, in course materials on the GCSE Computer Science page.

We have produced an editable two-year course planner (assuming two 60-minute lessons per week), which is a great starting point for those new to the course. This course planner groups the specification into ten teaching blocks. We have produced editable schemes of work (with accompanying resources) for teaching blocks 1 to 4, and you can download them from the GCSE Computer Science page. These resources will guide you as you create further content tailored to your learners’ needs and the expertise in your department.

We are working on the schemes of work for teaching blocks 5 to 10, and these will be added to the website in due course.

Support for the Controlled Assessment – Practical Programming

Unit 2 – Practical Programming is a 15-hour Controlled Assessment which makes up 25% of GCSE Computer Science. The Controlled Assessment Brief is set by Edexcel and will be made available to centres each year in January. The Controlled Assessment Brief will contain three tasks for learners to complete, based on a scenario. Learners will have to complete the coding tasks in one of three programming languages: Java, Python or a C-derived language. They will tackle the Controlled Assessment between January of Year 11 and May when marks must be submitted to Edexcel for moderation.

You can access the sample controlled assessment material in the course materials section of the GCSE Computer Science page.

Contact us

You can contact Tom Hibberd, Subject Specialist for ICT and Computing, and myself, in a variety of ways. We also have a very active Facebook community with almost 200 members, all of whom are delivering GCSE Computer Science and can be a great source of support. Please use the details below to ask any questions about the course that we have not covered already.

Join our growing community on the GCSE Computer Science Facebook group.

You can email me directly with questions about the content, delivery and assessment of the course. The principal examiner and moderator for GCSE Computer Science are also available to answer questions about GCSE Computer Science. Even if you don’t have a question, please take a moment to email me - sending a blank email will make sure you stay up to date with my email updates.



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