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UK IT teaching criticised by former Google chief

30/08/2011 Joanna
Eric Schmidt has criticised the standard of UK teaching in science, technology, engineering and maths.

Despite efforts to improve these subjects and avoid a technology skills crisis, the number of students pursuing careers in so-called STEM subjects continues to fall, as revealed yet again by the latest GCSE and A Level results.

And speaking at a lecture in Scotland as part of the Edinburgh International Television Festival, the former chief executive and current chairman of Google, one of the world's most successful tech firms, heaped further misery on the UK's education system.

The engineer explained that he was "flabbergasted" to learn that computer science and IT is still not standard in UK schools.

He added that the curriculum teaches how to use software, but gives little focus to how this software is made.

"The UK is home of so many media-related inventions. You invented photography. You invented TV. You invented computers in both concept and practice," Mr Schmidt said.

"It's not widely known, but the world's first office computer was built in 1951 by Lyons' chain of tea shops. Yet today, none of the world's leading exponents in these fields are from the UK."

It is hard to argue with Mr Schmidt, who has been involved at the top level in both Google and Apple, the two standout technology companies of this century.

In fact, the latest figures for A Level and GCSE admissions in STEM subjects bear out his words.

IT Pro estimates that just 0.5 per cent of England's A Level population chose to IT as one of their subjects, a lowly 4,002 in total.

This represents the eighth consecutive year of decline for IT student numbers at A Level, the publication notes, while IT at GCSE has also witnessed a marked decline – falling from 61,000 enrolled students in 2010 to just 47,000 this year.ADNFCR-2164-ID-800714279-ADNFCR
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