First computer science Leaving Cert exam set for 2020

Richard Bruton with students from Loreto College Swords.

Students at 40 schools will take the first computerised Leaving Certificate exam in 2020.

The schools have been chosen to roll out the computer science curriculum, from next September, when fifth-year students will begin the course.

It is focused on how programming and computational thinking can be applied to problems, and how computing technology impacts the world.

More than a dozen Dublin schools, and seven in Cork, have been selected to have their students take senior cycle computer science from next autumn. Its introduction was previously scheduled for 2019, but Education Minister, Richard Bruton, requested this be brought forward.

Students at the first-phase schools will do the first Leaving Certificate exam in the subject in 2020. The main end-of-course exam will be computer-based and worth 70% of the marks.

Another 30% of marks will be available for an assessment of coursework, as submitted in the form of a computational artefact, like a web page, digital animation, game, simulation, app or robotic system.

The marks in the assessment will also go towards students’ reports of the work and processes involved.

As well as learning about practices and principles of computer science, students will learn programming languages, and how to read, write, test and modify computer programmes.

The course also covers environmental, ethical, historical, and technological aspects of computer science, and its impacts on the development of society.

“There is a digital revolution taking place, which is having a transformative effect on our economy, workplace, and lifestyle. In order to be the best in Europe, our education system must respond to these changes,” Mr Bruton said.

“The introduction of this new subject will teach our young people flexible, solution-oriented thinking. It will teach them to be creative, adaptable learners,” he said.

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