If you’re a regular at ICT Nuggets you’ll be aware that the Royal Institute has undertaken a detailed 2 year investigation into the teaching of ICT in schools. I’ve been very concerned about the direction of this report and have made a number of representations to them. Further I am grateful to Derek O’Rourke for going along to a RI hearing and presenting the case for the curriculum.
The report has been published (just after Michael Gove’s speech), the text can be downloaded here.
I am delighted to say that they seem to have got it right. The report is entitled ‘Shutdown or Restart’ and is a very helpful document in my opinion.
As well as providing a definition of some common misunderstood terms the report contains 6 main findings that I find myself able to agree with
- The current delivery of Computing education in many UK schools is highly unsatisfactory. Although existing curricula for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) are broad and allow scope for teachers to inspire pupils and help them develop interests in Computing, many pupils are not inspired by what they are taught and gain nothing beyond basic digital literacy skills such as how to use a word-processor or a database. This is mainly because:
1.1 The current national curriculum in ICT can be very broadly interpreted and may be reduced to the lowest level where non specialist teachers have to deliver it;
1.2 there is a shortage of teachers who are able to teach beyond basic digital literacy;
1.3 there is a lack of continuing professional development for teachers of Computing;
1.4 features of school infrastructure inhibit effective teaching of Computing.
- There is a need to improve understanding in schools of the nature and scope of Computing. In particular there needs to be recognition that Computer Science is a rigorous academic discipline of great importance to the future careers of many pupils. The status of Computing in schools needs to be recognised and raised by government
- Every child should have the opportunity to learn Computing at school, including exposure to Computer Science as a rigorous academic discipline.
- There is a need for qualifications in aspects of Computing that are accessible at school level but are not currently taught. There is also a need for existing inappropriate assessment methods to be updated.
- There is a need for augmentation and coordination of current Enhancement and Enrichment activities to support the study of Computing.
- Uptake of Computing A-level is hindered by lack of demand from higher education institutions.
There are some detailed explanations about where to go next and what to do. I have some more detailed analysis of the report to do yet but so far I find this to be one of the best pieces of work I’ve seen outside of NAACE and BECTA. The report is definitely a well through through and valuable contribution to the debate.
I Urge you ALL to download a copy – and (if possible) read it. Maybe give a copy to your head teacher?