The Government has announced that it is scrapping the nation’s IT curriculum, to be replaced by a more intensive programming based classroom by 2014.
As part of the Conservative Government’s push to boost the tech sector, Education Secretary Michael Gove has announced plans to scrap the entire IT curriculum and rebuild it from scratch.
The current IT curriculum will be withdrawn in September, to be replaced by a new course called Computer Science which will focus on programming and other more high end computer education to help plug the UK’s IT skills shortage.
Respondents to a 2008 e-Skills study said that GCSE IT was "so harmful, boring and/or irrelevant it should simply be scrapped".
Education Secretary Michael Gove has described the current curriculum as "too off-putting, too demotivating and too dull."
Gove will now be taking the program into a period of public consultation for 12 weeks. The Government is already engaging with industry and university experts, IBM, Naace, the British Computer Society, Google, Cambridge University, with more to follow.
"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," said Gove.
Schools would be freed of the requirement to adhere to the existing Programmes of Study, Attainment Targets and statutory assessment arrangements.
"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 IT curriculum," he said.
An interim system will be in place from September 2012 to September 2014, when the new curriculum will be finalised and rolled out across the nation.
"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 IT as we know it," he said.
"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."
The program will include funding for new Teaching Schools to create strong networks between schools to help them develop and improve their use of technology. This will focus on improving Initial Teacher Training and continuing the development for teachers in educational technology.
IT will remain a compulsory part of the National Curriculum, pending the National Curriculum review.
John Botham, education director at D-Link UK and Ireland
"It is wholly positive that the education secretary has committed to raise the standards of IT teaching in schools, but the right training of staff is essential to ensure these resources are used to their full potential. Recent budget cuts at a local authority level and a reduction in teaching staff have led to a skills gap in teaching IT. Teachers in this field, in addition to becoming more engaged with the subject need to be confident in their ability to teach it and this can only come through having the right training in place.
"Through this process pupils can develop real life skills such as greater collaboration, creating and sharing documents and utilising the latest multimedia technology. All of this will stand them in good stead when it comes to then entering the working world."
Phil Smith, CEO of Cisco UK
"It is essential to the future of the British economy that we address the shortcomings in IT education and help school children and students to maximise their potential – failure to do this will result in a detrimental skills shortage for IT in the very near future.
"The Government, in conjunction with organisations like Cisco, is taking significant action to cultivate a strong tech economy in the UK. In particular, look to the Tech City project in the East of London which will create an environment for tech start-ups to grow and thrive. We need to build a creative, highly-skilled workforce which can drive these initiatives forward in the long term and enable continued future growth for IT. Without this, such initiatives will only deliver short term benefits and never reach their full potential. For Britain to compete on a global scale in the tech sector, bold moves need to happen now."
Liz Wilkins, Senior Marketing Manager, Adobe Education UK
"We welcome the fresh approach to IT. To have a real impact, schools must make technology integral to each and every part of the curriculum, incorporating it across the syllabus rather than treating it as a discrete subject. With the right framework and support from teachers, this approach has the potential to transform lessons by encouraging creativity and a deeper level of pupil engagement. Students will benefit from developing industry standard skills in preparation for University and the world of work.
And this is already happening. Through my role as education marketing manager at Adobe, I have seen many of the schools I work with succeed in increasing student engagement, attainment and employability, for example creating 2D animations in art, interactive web content in History classes, or using video editing and production software to create films in Media Studies.
This proposed change to the curriculum is essential if we are to prepare our young people for the world of work by taking a more creative approach to learning and teaching, making full use of today’s wealth of available technologies."
Colin McDonald, Head of Learning at Learndirect
"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.
"Technology is already being used in a variety of way to help people learn: for example online videos and collaboration tools, using keypads in the classroom for pupils to give feedback to teachers or providing full courses on iPads to university undergraduates. For schools and other learning providers it can also ensure efficient and effective assessment via e-assessment tools. This is vital if we are to cut costs while maintaining standards. If anyone is in any doubt about the power of technology in learning, they just need to look at our track record. learndirect has successfully helped more than three million learners improve their skills since it introduced online learning ten years ago. Around 300,000 adults in the last two years alone have achieved their first qualifications with us."