Schools won't be judged on fast-track ECDL IT qualification from next year

Controversial qualification dropped from the 2018 performance tables amid fears that schools were using it to 'game the system'

Eleanor Busby

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A fast-track IT qualification which schools began teaching in September has been removed from the GCSE performance tables, new guidance reveals.

The European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) – which currently counts as an equivalent to a two-year GCSE – has been taken out of a list of qualifications to be recognised by the government in the 2018 performance tables.

Exams watchdog Ofqual has been looking into the teaching time assigned to the qualification after Ofsted raised concerns that schools were using the ECDL to "game" league tables.

Critics have claimed that the BCS level 2 ECDL certificate in IT application skills can be taught in as little as three days, making it much easier to obtain than two-year GCSE courses. 

Surge in entries

The latest statistics from the exams watchdog show that the number of ECDL certificates awarded last year surged by 123 per cent after the qualification was listed in performance tables for 2018.

Last month, the Department for Education announced that the ECDL would not be included in the performance tables for 2019, but now it will also not be included in the tables next year – despite schools already starting to teach it from September. 

Schools have been accused of entering entire cohorts for the ECDL in order to maximise their scores under Progress 8 – the government’s key performance measure which came into effect this year.

Earlier this month, Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national education director, said that schools were entering large numbers of pupils for inappropriate qualifications when he called on inspectors to crack down on schools "gaming the system".

The DfE last month said it had concluded that the ECDL did "not demonstrate the characteristics of a Technical Award" following a review of the qualification. 

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Eleanor Busby

Eleanor Busby is a reporter at TES 

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