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More specialist ICT teachers needed, the Royal Society says

13/01/2012 Kelly
The Royal Society today (January 13th) urged the Department for Education (DfE) to tackle the major lack of computing specialists in ICT teaching jobs.

According to research published by the science fellowship, just 35 per cent of people in ICT teacher jobs are experts in the subject, less than half the proportion of other lessons.

In mathematics, 74 per cent of teachers are specialists, while in history the figure is 76 per cent, English 80 per cent and in biology some 88 per cent of teachers are experts in the field.

Following education secretary Michael Gove's announcement earlier this week that the DfE intends to conduct a radical overhaul of the ICT curriculum, the Royal Society published its report on the subject 'Shut Down or Restart?'.

Key findings of the study reveal that the number of students taking A Level computing courses has fallen by almost two-thirds (60 per cent) since 2003, while the number of young people sitting A Level ICT has fallen by over a third (34 per cent).

Meanwhile, ICT teachers at GCSE level have seen pupil numbers fall by 57 per cent during the same time frame.

Launching the study, Professor Steve Furber, who chaired the report and is a fellow of the Royal Society, gave his backing to Mr Gove's plans to overhaul the ICT curriculum while expressing his concern at the lack of specialists occupying the teaching jobs in the subject.

"The most significant factor affecting how well young people learn is the teacher in their classroom," he said. 

"The majority of teachers are specialists, but ICT is an exception to the rule."

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt threw his weight behind the report, saying that despite its fantastic computing background, the UK risks falling behind because of its ICT education.

"The state of computing in schools lies at the heart of the problem. Most ICT teaching focuses on learning how to use software, rather than giving insight into how it's made," he commented.

Posted by Harriet McGowanADNFCR-2164-ID-801264043-ADNFCR
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