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Make IT Better: Teacher David Astall on why pupils must be taught to think outside the box

14 Nov 2012

ICT teacher David AstallV3 has become increasingly concerned that current measures being taken to overhaul the IT curriculum and GCSE syllabus will not lead to young people being taught the technology skills needed by the IT industry.

The V3 Make IT Better campaign, launched in partnership with the Corporate IT Forum, calls on the Department for Education (DfE) to give the ICT curriculum reform process transparency and to include the views of more teachers, education advisers and IT professionals from the start.

As part of this campaign, V3 is publishing regular accounts from teachers and IT professionals on what they want to see in the new ICT curriculum.

Here we speak to David Astall, head of ICT at Baines School in Lancashire, a secondary school with over 1000 pupils. Astall has 33 years' experience in teaching computer studies and ICT and is a GCSE examiner on the subject for a number of boards, as well as an author of ICT books.

Astall backs the V3 campaign, and calls for real reform to the ICT curriculum in schools.

Although he congratulates government education minister Michael Gove on his decision to completely overhaul the ICT course for five to 16-year-olds, he believes there has not been enough consultation in the reform process so far. Astall questions whether real change will occur when there are only a few education bodies being sought for input.

"When Mr Gove announced that the ICT curriculum was going to be revamped there was great relief as it had become old and outdated. The elation soon changed when it was announced that without a White Paper the name ICT could not be changed and therefore we were to have a new curriculum with an old name and as such nothing is changing," says Astall.

A new name for the subject is just one of the ways Astall believes the ICT subject can be refreshed and improved.

Astall believes the curriculum needs to move with the times, and needs to be flexible enough to adapt to the range of skills held by ICT teachers in schools.

"Some teachers like myself came from a programming background, others don't. It is not like Maths and English where everyone comes from similar backgrounds. This is a totally different beast," he adds.

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Rosalie Marshall

Rosalie Marshall is the special projects editor and chief reporter at V3. Previously she was a reporter for IT Week and channel editor for online television site Rosalie covers government IT, business applications, IT skills, open source technology and social networks.

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