The rabbit arrives, but it looks like a hare to me

Last year after the SoS spoke at BETT I blogged about his speech here and specifically highlighted what he said about the possibility of Computer Science being included in the Ebacc. On that point I said:

Inclusion in the the Ebacc (potentially) is the game changer that will drive more schools, teachers and therefore students into Computer Science.

Today (again at BETT time) an announcement has been made that CS will be included in the Ebacc  It is unlikely, however, to be a game changer due to the way it will be introduced.

The idea is that it will become the 4th science (this is my shorthand). Student will have to take 3 science subjects and pass 2 of them to qualify for Ebacc. In practice I can’t see this changing very much.

It may encourage more schools to offer CS as an option (and encourage more students/parents to take it up) but by making the change in this way it is unlikely to make a significant change to any schools Ebacc percentage. The number of students who would pass one of Physics, Chemistry or Biology plus CS is likely to be very small. The number who would pass Physics, Chemistry and Biology is larger, but adding CS to this group is not going to change the Ebacc percentage. If the Ebacc is about accountability why therefore, would schools bother with CS?

And whilst we’re on this, pretty soon students are going to need to take a pre-qualification to work out if the subjects they take will qualify for an Ebacc.

Also, why add CS to the sciences? Just because it has the word ‘science’ in its name doesn’t actually make it a science. Yes, there are a number of information and computational theories about but that does not mean the subject is a science. If anything it is an child of Mathematics, a cousin of engineering.

So, not bad news, but not earth-shatteringly good either. Certainly not a good as it will be spun, both by the politicians and by those in the computer industry who have been lobbying for this.