I’m sorry for the length of this post. I do try to keep ‘Nuggets’ to be bit size but I feel that this is an important development and that you would want to see the words to make up your own mind.
You are aware that Hope and Livingstone have written a report to bemoan the state of ICT in schools … here are a few highlights from the response from the Department:
’12. As outlined within the Next Gen report, ICT is currently part of the National Curriculum at all four key stages (ages 5 – 16) and allows for the teaching of some of the skills associated with computer science. However, the Government recognises that learning the skills to use ICT effectively and acquiring the knowledge of the underpinning computer science are two different (albeit complementary) subjects. Furthermore, the Government recognises that the current ICT programme is insufficiently rigorous and in need of reform.
13. The Government is committed to introducing a slimmed down, more focused, and more rigorous curriculum. As part of this commitment, a review of the National Curriculum was launched on 20 January 2011. The review aims to develop a new National Curriculum which clearly sets out the core knowledge that all children should acquire, while giving teachers more freedom to decide how to teach and design a wider school curriculum that best meets the needs of their pupils.
14. Department for Education Ministers announced at the outset of the National Curriculum review that English, maths, science and physical education would remain as subjects within the National Curriculum in all four school Key Stages. They are currently considering the place of all the other subjects that currently feature within the National Curriculum, including ICT, and will bring forward proposals shortly. If ICT were to be included as a discrete subject within the new National Curriculum, then work on a new Programme of Study would begin next year. As part of that process the review will consider the teaching of computer science within ICT. The Government recognises that, in the event of ICT not remaining part of the National Curriculum, attention would still need to be given to ensure children could acquire computer science skills. The Government would work with the sector to find the best way to achieve this.
15. The Government recognises that the IT GCSE is in need of reform, and will be looking at ways to improve the course. The Government welcomes e-skills UK’s “Behind the Screens” project which aims to trial a possible reformed IT GCSE curriculum. e-Skills UK are aiming to establish a new way of delivering IT in secondary schools, initially concentrating around Key Stage 4 and bringing in employers to provide a bank of resources as stimulus materials for the Government supports the alignment of industry interest in computing curriculum around this pilot activity.
16. In addition to the curriculum review and the pilot IT GCSE the Government recognises the potential developments such as the Raspberry Pi computer project have for stimulating and motivating children to understand basic computer science in schools. Much as the BBC Micro inspired a generation of computer programmers in the early 1980’s the Raspberry Pi could provide the platform for teachers and pupils to gain hands on programming experience. Raspberry Pi is an example of how games developers are finding innovative and affordable solutions to tackle the perceived issues highlighted in the Next Gen Report.’