New IT Technical Award: equipping 14-16 year olds for tomorrow's world

Published: Monday 6 Jun 2016

Updated 5 July 2016: updates have been made to the assessment structure.

We’ve developed a new Technical Award in IT to give young learners a real head start when it comes to gaining valuable, practical IT skills. The new qualification will be available for first teaching in September 2017. It replaces our existing GCSE Information and Communication Technology.

Technical Awards are practical, vocational qualifications available to 14-16 year olds to take alongside GCSEs. If approved by the Department for Education, a single award will be equivalent to a GCSE qualification and will count towards performance tables. They could then be included in Progress 8 as part of the non-Ebacc open group of subjects.

Course content

We have designed this new qualification around the three vocational areas in which research has shown the greatest skills gaps:

  • creative sector (gaming and websites)
  • data management (spreadsheets and databases)
  • technical (networking/building/configuring a PC).

Learners will study all three areas but will specialise in one as part of the internally assessed units.

Learners will have the opportunity to put their knowledge into practice through a combination of real-life case studies, practical tasks and theoretical study.

All learners will be taught and assessed in the same way, and there is no need to split your class into Level 1 and Level 2.

Assessment structure

There are two internally-assessed units, and a third unit that is externally assessed:

  • Unit 1: Understanding IT Systems (30%)
  • Unit 2: Creating IT Systems (30%)
  • Unit 3: Fundamentals of IT (written exam – 40%).

Learners will complete one of two tasks within their chosen specialism:

  • creative
    • create a website
    • create an entertainment product
  • data management
    • create a spreadsheet
    • create a database
  • technical
    • create a home network
    • build and configure a PC.

Through the two skills-based assessments learners will develop the core IT skills they need to plan and create their chosen task.

In Unit 3, learners will develop the foundational knowledge required to work with IT systems, including their uses and component parts.

Why choose AQA

Insight from teachers and leading members of the IT community:

The assessment requirements are clear and purposeful

Kelly Charman, Leader of ICT, Tanbridge House School

The separate awarding of the design and implementation will help balance out the limitations of the more complex technical skills in Unit 2. I absolutely love the option of the building of a network or a PC. Fabulous.

Dr Cynthia Selby, Senior Teaching Fellow at Southampton Education School and CAS member

I particularly like the breadth of the subject matter which can appeal to a wider range of interests, rather than the narrower and more specialised Computing curriculum. Those who enjoy more vocational courses will engage with this far better.

Chris Sweeney, Senior Lecturer, University of Brighton

Where this award leads

This Technical Award is designed to equip learners with the practical IT skills they need to progress, whether that’s to other Level 2 qualifications or apprenticeships, to junior roles in the IT industry, or to Level 3 general or vocational qualifications.

We’ve worked with post-16 education providers to ensure that Technical Awards count equally alongside GCSEs when applying to do further study in either general or vocational qualifications.

Support and resources

We’ll be submitting our draft qualification to the Department for Education in September 2016, when we’ll share the draft specification with you. We’re also planning a series of free support events throughout the autumn term, alongside a full set of resources.

Contact us

Our subject team is here to help. Sign up for updates on our new Technical Awards, or contact Nick Colman and the customer support team on 0161 957 3980 or by email at ict-subjects@aqa.org.uk

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