ICT curriculum to make way for rigorous Computer Science


Education Secretary Michael Gove has announced that heis scrapping the existing ICT curriculum in place of new courses of study in Computer Science.

The move, which is being supported by industry experts, will give schools the freedom to create their own ICT and Computer Science curricula that equip pupils with the skills employers want.
Other experts, including the British Computer Society and ICT professional association Naace, confirm the current National Curriculum Programme of Study is dull and unsatisfactory. Some respondents to a 2008 e-Skills study said that GCSE ICT was “so harmful, boring and/or irrelevant it should simply be scrapped”.
Companies such as Microsoft and Google and Cambridge University are already working with technology education organisations, such as the British Computer Society, to produce free materials for schools. More are expected to follow.
The Education Secretary also said he was keen for high-quality qualifications in Computer Science to be developed, and welcomed industry-giant IBM’s involvement.
Michael Gove said: "Our school system has not prepared children for this new world. Millions have left school over the past decade without even the basics they need for a decent job. And the current curriculum cannot prepare British students to work at the very forefront of technological change.

The best degrees in Computer Science are among the most rigorous and respected qualifications in the world… and prepare students for immensely rewarding careers and world-changing innovations. But you’d never know that from the current ICT curriculum.

 This is why we are withdrawing it from September. Technology in schools will no longer be micro-managed by Whitehall. By withdrawing the Programme of Study, we’re giving teachers freedom over what and how to teach, revolutionising ICT as we know it.

"Universities, businesses and others will have the opportunity to devise new courses and exams. In particular, we want to see universities and businesses create new high-quality Computer Science GCSEs, and develop curricula encouraging schools to make use of the brilliant Computer Science content available on the web."
Richard Allan, Director of Policy at Facebook in Europe, said: "We need to improve our young people’s skills in ICT for the UK to be truly competitive in the digital age.

"By creating space in the curriculum for teaching courses like this that are innovative and relevant for young people, Government will boost the spread of skills that benefit both individuals and employers.

Richard Hadfield, chair of Intellect’s education group said: “We are pleased that Michael Gove has agreed with our recommendation to scrap the current dull and uninspiring ICT lessons and replace them with lessons which will engage, excite and inspire pupils. Equipping pupils with real programming and computer science skills is vital to ensuring the future of the UK ICT sector and our whole economy.”

e-skills UK, the Sector Skills Council for Business and IT, believes the announcement is a vital and historic step towards creating a new approach to teaching IT in schools. Karen Price OBE, CEO of e-skills UK said: “The door is now wide open to create a new and relevant curriculum that will inspire students and ensure that the UK can retain its position at the forefront of technology.

"IT drives productivity in every sector and is the engine for growth across the whole economy.  That is why we are working with leading employers to create a new GCSE in IT.”

Colin McDonald, Head of Learning at learndirect said: "Whilst its right to move away from ICT lessons, it’s our view technology should be threaded through all forms of learning as it can help in every classroom and in any subject – whether for children or adults, in formal or informal settings. More and more people live their lives using technology and the education sector should recognise and build on this, whilst still supporting those who don’t have access to IT at home.
The Education Secretary also made other statements on ICT and technology in schools, including:

  • funding for new Teaching Schools to enable them to create strong networks between schools to help them develop and improve their use of technology
  • a recognition that we should look at the school curriculum in a new way, and consider how new technological platforms can help to create new curriculum materials in a much creative and collaborative way than in the past; and
  • a focus on improving Initial Teacher Training and Continual Professional Development for teachers in educational technology. The Education Secretary said that knowledge in our schools is of vital importance.
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