Fascinating blog post and analysis from Neil Brown. The UK secondary school top test in CS (consider it like the US Advanced Placement Exam) is the A-level. Fewer people are taking the CS A-levels in the UK, but more people are applying for degrees in CS and more people are entering the CS degree program. That means that fewer people are seeing CS in high school, while there’s still rising interest in the degree. What’s the cost of fewer people studying CS at the secondary school level? Less breadth, fewer people who know CS but don’t go into CS, fewer people who are computing literate for their careers and daily lives. That’s not a good thing.
A-Level Computing looks like it’s on the verge of dying out. This is not good news for the discipline as a whole — even though our degree numbers seem to be doing fine in spite of the A-Level decline, ultimately it would be good to see computing strong at all stages of the educational system. As it stands we face a sort of polarisation: those with computing degrees know computing, but almost no-one without a computing degree will have done any computing. (Compare to maths, where lots of students have maths A-Level, despite not doing a maths degree.)