Coursework will not count towards final GCSE computer science grades over the next two years, England's exams regulator has confirmed.
The move comes amid concerns about widespread cheating in the subject, which prompted Ofqual to take action to ensure that results remain 'fair and reliable'.
In November, the exams watchdog launched a consultation on changes to computer science, warning there was a 'real and significant' risk that if nothing was done, this summer's GCSE computer science results would not be a 'fair reflection of every student's knowledge, skills and understanding'.
It had emerged that tasks due to be completed by teenagers in schools and colleges as part of the new GCSE course have been posted online, as well as detailed solutions in many cases, according to Ofqual.
Fears over cheating have caused Ofqual to scrap coursework from the computer science GCSE after tasks that were due to be completed by students were posted online along with the solutions
It has today confirmed that coursework will not count towards final grades this year or next, adding that the tasks are 'still an important part of the course and contributes to student learning and progress'.
Students will have to be given the opportunity within the school timetable to complete the work, Ofqual added.
A decision on 2020 onwards has not yet been taken.
Ofqual chief executive, Sally Collier said: 'We are pleased that so many teachers and students took the time to respond to our consultation.
'A clear majority of respondents agree that there are currently shortcomings with the non-exam assessment that could unfairly advantage some students.
'While the tasks themselves will no longer contribute to students' grades, we strongly believe that learning about a high-level programming language and having the opportunity to show how it can be used to solve problems is hugely important.
'We believe these changes will make the qualification as fair as it can be for all students.'
The exams watchdog were concerned that this summer's GCSE computer science results would not be a 'fair reflection of every student's knowledge, skills and understanding' if they did not scrap the coursework element
Coursework, known as non-exam assessment, is completed by GCSE computer science pupils during their studies, and is currently worth 20% of their final mark.
Students due to take their exams in the subject this summer - the first time that awards will be given for the qualification - were able to start their coursework from the beginning of September last year.
But shortly afterwards Ofqual became aware that tasks and solutions were being discussed in online forums, the regulator said.
In one case, an individual asked for help with a task on designing a piece of software. The first response to this question included a full solution, Ofqual said, adding that the post currently has more than 2,500 views.
In another example, Ofqual said a simple search for a key requirement of a task on a popular online developer community returned over 40 pages of results.
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CHEATING students are going online to buy tailor-made essays that earn top grades when they hand them in as their own.
The work is often prepared by highly qualified youngsters abroad – who are delighted to be paid as little as £15.
Soaring numbers of lazy GCSE, A Level and degree students are taking advantage of dozens of websites offering help with preparing coursework.
The sites say the essays they offer are simply a “learning resource” for guidance.
But some offer a money-back guarantee that the buyer will get the grade they want.
And because the essays are individually written, teachers or tutors are unlikely to spot plagiarism – even if a student copies the work word for word.
An A Level English teacher who alerted The People to the problem said: “It’s ridiculous the amount of cheating that goes on. Kids are no longer simply copying each other’s homework.
“These sites are so sophisticated it is virtually impossible to detect plagiarism.”
With exam season approaching, parents will be shocked by The People’s findings.
The teacher agreed to pose as a student and go on to website EssayBay. He asked for help with a 1,000-word answer to an A level English Literature question on Jane Austen’s Emma. Within an hour 11 graduates from countries including the Philippines, Kenya and India had responded.
Fewer than half of the replies were from Brits. One writer promised to deliver an answer in two days for £26.50.
Another said they could do it in three days for £28.27. Our “student” accepted an offer from a 25-year-old Filipina graduate to complete a B grade essay in two days for £22.
The woman, who writes under the name girlfriday, said she was trying to save to pay for law school. She has written 30 online essays in three months.
But Essaybay says she is not a “verified writer” – meaning it has not checked her identity, address or qualifications.
But the teacher said: “Her essay was really good. I would definitely give it a B grade. I gave her examples of previous essays so she could write to my style.”
Our investigation proved that graduates with Masters degrees and even PhDs are ready to take part in a bidding war to earn what is little more than pocket money for British students. Cheats can even choose the grade they want for a paper.
A site called School Papers and Essays boasts it can provide essays at Philippines prices.
The firm started a Facebook group where it posted a blurb saying: “We are your source for original write-ups and essays to fit your school needs – at very reasonable Filipino rates. Yes, you can pay in Pesos.”
Another site asks pupils: “Are you tired of spending all your free time doing homework and coursework? Well, now you don’t have to. Our friendly writers will do it for you.”
Most websites carry disclaimers stressing they are not encouraging cheating.
One says: “Although our research papers are written for you as custom essays, they should be used as a basis for producing your own work. We do not condone plagiarism.”
The teacher told The People: “With coursework making a high percentage of the final exam mark, something needs to be done about this quickly.
“Perhaps exam boards should consider getting students to write coursework under supervised conditions.”
The Government’s exam watchdog Ofqual penalised 4,415 candidates last June for cheating in GCSE and A Levels – 1,084 for plagiarising work.
But it says it is powerless to stop online cheating as it is virtually undetectable.
Nansi Ellis, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, told The People: “These websites are a real worry.
“We are at a point where getting good grades is more important than learning.
“Being creative and working out what you know and what you don’t know – this is what education should be all about, not cheating.
“But so much now depends on pupils and schools getting the grades that there is a market for these sites.
“We’ve forgotten the importance of learning.”
Simon Rhodes, spokesman for Academic Essays, which owns EssayBay.com and another site UKessays.com, insisted: “We do not encourage cheating.”
Mr Rhodes said: “If a student purchases an essay they should know it’s as a learning resource. They then use it to write their own piece of work.
“It’s the same as paying for a private tutor or going to the library and finding a book. We cannot stress enough that an essay is not to hand in as their own piece of work. They would be breaching copyright laws.”