IT lessons in schools can be greatly improved if teachers are passionate about the subject and have the skills to link the study programme with other school subjects, according to SAS UK head of academic programmes, Geoffrey Taylor.
Taylor was speaking to V3 as part of our Make It Better campaign, which aims to improve IT learning in schools in order to address the growing skills crisis facing businesses.
The government is currently working on revamping the ICT curriculum to make it more interesting to students, but Taylor said IT teaching also needs to be improved.
"I still fall back on my own experience that IT will only ever be exciting if those who teach it are passionate about it," said Taylor.
Taylor claimed that in order to give children a good idea of the scope of IT, they need to understand how their IT lessons support other school subjects.
"It's imperative that the curriculum is not restricted to computer science alone," he said.
"IT goes far beyond basic computer skills and programming. I almost believe that IT is not a separate subject in its own right, but should be a core component of every subject in school. It's used for rock analysis in geography or forensic analysis in history, for example."
"The real challenge stopping us from making the link between IT and these other subjects and incorporating them into the curriculum, is the increased diversity of skills required by teaching staff."
Taylor's role at SAS, a firm focused on analytics technology, means he is very aware the IT industry lacks professionals that can tackle big data problems. Taylor argued that more partnering between maths and IT teachers in schools will help solve this IT skills gap.
"It would be great to see a more structured approach to the understanding of computing, including techniques and methods on how computing, maths and data can come together," said Taylor.
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 LocalGov.tv. Rosalie covers government IT, business applications, IT skills, open source technology and social networks.