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ESC gives thumbs-down to Goves ICT curriculum proposal.
The Education and Skills Commission, a group established by the Corporate IT Forum, is concerned by the Department of Education’s proposals to disapply the current ICT curriculum.
The result of the DoE’s consultation, which closed on April 11th, means that if all goes to plan, the current, business-based ICT curriculum will be scrapped.
This means that the emphasis will no longer be on students’ ability to create spreadsheets, documents and presentations.
Instead, the proposed ICT curriculum, to be implemented in September 2014, will be focussing on programming and computer science.
Education Secretary Michael Gove proposes that ICT should continue to be a compulsory National Curriculum subject, but that schools should no longer be obligated to adhere to the curriculum as it stands at present.
The removals of current compulsory study activities, fear the members of the Education and Skills Commission, could result in some schools being able to choose to provide little or no ICT education at all for the next two school years.
The Commission, however, in its submission to the consultation, point out that ICT skills education is already in crisis, and that the proposal to disapply the current curriculum could widen the gap between the best and the worst ICT teaching in schools, leading to great problems by the end of this decade.
To that end, the Commission is urging the government to keep the current ICT teaching program until the new curriculum is put in place.
This is despite the opinion of Commission chairman John Harris, also chair of the Corporate IT Forum and chief architect and head of IT strategy at GlaxoSmithKline. He says that the current curriculum needs to be improved because it fails to meet the needs of employers.
However it’s still, he feels, a much better option than Gove’s proposed alternative.
"We are very concerned,” he states, “that the absence of a programme of study or attainment targets for any period of time will severely disadvantage large groups of children as a result of significant differences in standards between the schools that put in place good quality replacements and those that do the bare minimum or, in the absence of guidance, nothing at all."
The Commission believes that the lack of teachers with good graduate level IT qualifications, together with the lack of training investment to ensure teachers can update their knowledge and skills, are major challenges to creating a new, challenging ICT curriculum.
And it fears that should current and future ICT training fail to create a workforce with in-depth knowledge of computer science and the technical skills to go with that knowledge, businesses will move their IT centres away from the UK, to locations where staff do have that knowledge and those skills.