Michael Gove told the British Educational Training and Technology conference the government's decentralised approach to information and communications technology (ICT) provision is equipping young people with the skills necessary to succeed in the modern world.
Mr Gove said the government's approach has given more power to teachers and rendered the school system more adaptive and flexible.
The old IT curriculum was inadequate, he claimed, as it focussed on skills such as word-processing and teaching children how to use programmes which were already becoming out-of-date. He said this was "as much use as teaching children to send a telex or travel in a zeppelin".
An uninspiring curriculum was the consequence of a top-down imposition of standards by government. In contrast, the new curriculum, which has been drawn up by industry experts and allows teachers more freedom, will better prepare youngsters for the modern world.
It will teach children computer science, information technology, and digital literacy, with programming taught from age five onwards.
Mr Gove said the rapid pace of technological progress requires adequate teacher training, which is why the government has introduced new, more demanding computer science initial teacher training courses.
The establishment of a "national network of teaching excellence", in conjunction with private sector partners such as Microsoft and Google, will help those in teaching jobs cope with the new demands of the curriculum.
In addition, 400 'master teachers', who are experts in computer science, are currently being recruited to train other teachers and to develop resources for use in the classroom.
Mr Gove said the new design and technology curriculum would include material on 3D printers and robotics. A new scheme has been introduced by the government whereby schools can apply for a 3D printer and up to £5,000 of funding.
The education secretary said massive online open courses (MOOCs) are currently transforming education, making information previously open to a privileged few available to anyone who can access the internet.
Schools will soon be affected by these courses, he said, and there is a consultation underway about how to use MOOCs to support learning for 16- to 19-year-olds
Cambridge University is currently developing a MOOC to aid the transition from A level physics to undergraduate physics. Such courses, he said, would serve to democratise education.
Posted by Charlotte Michaels