Pupils told they may have to re-do 20 hours’ work after GCSE Computer Science blunder

File photo dated of a person using a computer (Pic: Adam Peck/PA Wire)
File photo dated of a person using a computer (Pic: Adam Peck/PA Wire)

Hundreds of schoolchildren are feared to have been affected by a ‘computer security error’, which one school said will see pupils’ GCSE coursework scrapped.

Pearson said youngsters at 13 out of 232 schools taking the Edexcel GCSE Computer Science course have been impacted so far, although those who had already started a 20-hour-long project are being allowed to finish.

But in a letter home to parents, Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College’s head of computing and science Lisa Fitzpatrick said pupils may have to start again.

It comes after ‘non-examined assessment’ (NEA) paperwork was posted to a public section of Pearson’s website, rather than a password-protected section for teachers.

The blunder meant pupils were able to see and download it before they got to the classrooms.

“Clearly, this decision puts us in a difficult position and we are working to ensure the impact upon the pupils is limited, but they will have to complete another 20 hours of NEA,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

“When arrangements are in place we will inform the students. I realise they are not going to greet this news positively and I understand this, however we will need a constructive approach to the new NEA task.”

Youngsters have been working on the project, which is worth 20 per cent of youngsters’ final GCSE grade, since returning to classes in September, the school said.

Pearson said the 13 schools that had confirmed they were using the original test have been told ‘that they may use this’.

It said it had not been contacted by Lytham St Annes College and had been trying to reach teachers there ‘so we can clarify what their situation is’.

“We have been contacted by a small number of schools whose students have already made a start of the GCSE Computer Science NEA task,” it said in a statement.

“We will ensure no learner is disadvantaged by allowing schools that can show they’ve started the existing assessment to continue.

“All other schools should use the new NEA we have circulated. We apologise for the inconvenience this error has caused, and reaffirm our absolute commitment to ensuring that all students receive the appropriate mark.”

The work was designed to tests youngsters’ ability to analyse a problem, design an algorithm to fix it, test and implement their design into a computer program, and refine and evaluate it.

It is all done under the watchful eye of teachers.

Nobody at Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College could be reached for a comment.

Pearson did not name the other schools affected, saying it doesn’t ‘share information about other schools’.