More on the Royal Society report

I’ve been going through the full report in more detail and can still report that I find myself in agreement with the broad principles and impressed with the detail that underpins the work of the group.

They suggest that we develop clarity over what terms we use, their suggestion is:

  • Computing – The broad subject area; roughly equivalent to what is called ICT in schools and IT in industry, as the term is generally used.
  • ICT – The school subject defined in the current National Curriculum.
  • Computer Science – The rigorous academic discipline, encompassing programming languages, data structures, algorithms, etc.
  • Information Technology – The use of computers, in industry, commerce, the arts and elsewhere, including aspects of IT systems architecture, human factors, project management, etc. (Note that this is narrower than the use in industry, which generally encompasses Computer Science as well.)
  • Digital literacy – The general ability to use computers. This will be written in lower case to emphasize that it is a set of skills rather than a subject in its own right

This is the first of a total of 11 recommendations.  In total they are (in edited form):

Recommendation 1  The term ICT as a brand should be reviewed and the possibility considered of disaggregating this into clearly defined areas such as digital literacy, Information Technology and Computer Science.  The term ‘ICT’ should no longer be used as it has attracted too many negative connotations

Recommendation 2  The government should set targets for the number of Computer Science and Information Technology specialist teachers, and monitor recruitment against these targets in order to allow all schools to deliver a rigorous curriculum.

Recommendation 3  Government <snip> should ensure that there is coordination of CPD provision for Computer Science and Information Technology teachers that deepens subject knowledge and subject-specific pedagogy.   Government should set a minimum level of provision for subject-specific CPD for Computing teachers.

Recommendation 4  School infrastructure service providers, working with others, should prepare a set of off-the-shelf strategies for balancing network security against the need to enable good teaching and learning. Such a “Guide to Best Practice” should be used by schools and local authorities as part of any tendering process for outsourced service provision. (Sounds like BECTA to me)

Recommendation 5  Suitable technical resources should be available in all schools to support the teaching of Computer Science and Information technology. These could include pupil-friendly programming environments such as Scratch, educational microcontroller kits such as PICAXE and Arduino, and robot kits such as Lego Mindstorms

Recommendation 6  The Department for Education should <snip>  reform and rebrand the current ICT curriculum in England. Schemes of work should be established for ages 5 – 14 across the range of Computing aspects, e.g. digital literacy, Information Technology, and Computer Science.  <snip>the existence of separately-defined learning experiences will ensure that each strand is always properly developed – unlike at present.
A timetable distinction should then be in place from the age of 14, allowing pupils to make a well-informed choice to study for recognised qualifications in Information Technology and/or Computer Science.
Given the lack of specialist teachers, we recommend that only the teaching of digital literacy is made statutory at this point. However,
the long-term aim should be to move to a situation where there are sufficient specialist teachers to enable all young people to study
Information Technology and Computer Science at school. Accordingly, the Government should  put in place an action plan to achieve this.The schools inspectorates should monitor the implementation of this change to ensure that the problems of the current curriculum are not replicated.

Recommendation 7  In order to redress the imbalance between academic and vocational qualifications in this area – and to ensure that all qualifications are of value to those who take them – the departments for education across the UK should encourage Awarding Organisations to review their current provision and develop Key Stage 4 (KS4) qualifications in Computer Science in consultation with the UK Forum (see recommendation 11), universities and employers.Awarding Organisations across the UK should review and revise the titles and content of all new and existing qualifications in this area to match the disaggregation described above (e.g. Computer Science, Information Technology and digital literacy).

Recommendation 8  The UK Forum (see recommendation 11) should advise Awarding Organisations on appropriate assessment methods for qualifications in digital literacy, Information Technology and Computer Science.

Recommendation 9  The UK Forum (see recommendation 11) should put in place a framework to support non-formal learning in Computer Science and to support teachers.

Recommendation 10  Awarding Organisations should consult with the UK Forum (see recommendation 11 ) and HE departments to develop rigorous Level 3 academic qualifications in Computer Science

Recommendation 11  The Computing community should establish a lasting UK Forum for joint working and coordination between the many Computing bodies, in order to progress the recommendations within this report.


I can even agree that the current National Curriculum Programme of Study could be dis-applied in order to make way for these recommendations – I just think that having something in place PRIOR to removing the PoS would have been a good thing.

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