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"Boring" ICT curriculum to be replaced with computer science

11/01/2012 Joanna
The current information and communications technology (ICT) curriculum will be scrapped at the end of this school year, paving the way for lessons devised by people in ICT teaching jobs, schools and industry experts.

Describing the current curriculum as "boring" and "dull", education secretary Michael Gove revealed that it will be abandoned, to be replaced by new courses in computer science.

A consultation on removing ICT from the National Curriculum by September will be launched next week.

The status of the ICT curriculum post-2014 will remain in the wider National Curriculum review that is currently ongoing.

As part of the proposals, schools will be given the freedom to devise their own curricula for ICT and computer science lessons.

The measures have been introduced to deal with what is perceived to be an out-of-date and irrelevant curriculum that fails to equip young people with the skills needed in the modern employment environment.

ICT experts such as the British Computer Society and the professional association Naace support the view that the current curriculum is woefully inadequate for today's needs and should be scrapped to allow for more relevant courses to take place.

In a speech today, the education secretary said that England has allowed its ICT teaching to deteriorate to such an extent that it does not prepare students for the world of work.

"This is why we are withdrawing it from September. Technology in schools will no longer be micro-managed by Whitehall," he said.

"By withdrawing the Programme of Study, we're giving teachers freedom over what and how to teach, revolutionising ICT as we know it."

He added that funding would be made available for teaching schools to facilitate them in building strong networks among schools in a bid to help develop and improve their uses of technology.

There should also be a greater focus upon Initial Teacher Training and Continual Professional Development for teachers of the subjects, he said.

Companies including Microsoft and Google are now working with education organisations like the British Computer Society to create free learning resources for schools, the Department for Education (DfE) revealed.

Universities, businesses and other organisations are to help devise new courses, which Mr Gove hopes will engender a new generation of high-quality computer science GCSEs.

He invited people to consider the change that would be possible in ICT teaching once the "roadblock" of the current out-of-date curriculum was done away with.

"Instead of children bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word and Excel by bored teachers, we could have 11-year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations using an MIT tool called Scratch," he said.

The DfE's plans have received widespread backing from the ICT industry.

Director of policy at Facebook, Richard Allan, welcomed the plans, saying they would make ICT teaching in England more "interesting and relevant for young people".

Improving young people's ICT skills would help make the UK more competitive in digital industries, he added.

Further backing was forthcoming from the director of the British Computer Society's Academy of Computing, Bill Mitchell, added that it is essential to teach pupils to create software and technology themselves.

He commented: "Good schools will now be free to teach the underpinning principles and concepts of computer science through imaginative and rigorous curricula such as the Computing At School curriculum."

For people in ICT teaching jobs, the move represents the chance to revolutionise the content of their lessons, making them more enjoyable for themselves and their pupils.

Bernadette Brooks, general manager of Naace said: "The only constant in ICT is change, and teachers will see this as their opportunity to bring innovation and creativity to their classrooms."

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