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Make IT Better: True reform of ICT teaching at risk, warns Somerset Council education advisor

23 Jan 2013

The prospect of creating a new ICT curriculum in schools that has buy-in from teachers and students from across the UK is at risk, according to Somerset Local Authority education advisor Ian Gover.

Somerset Local Authority education advisor Ian GoverGover says the Department of Education (DfE) has waited too long before consulting nationally on the contents of the new ICT curriculum, with September 2014 - the launch date for the new curriculum - fast approaching.

Meanwhile, as teachers and students continue to wait to this national consultation to take place, the quality of ICT teaching continues to decline, says Gover.

The current ICT curriculum in schools is being overhauled by the government to make it more relevant to students.

The Department for Education asked the British Computer Society (BCS) and the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) to put forward a first draft of the new curriculum, with the help of other stakeholders. This draft of the curriculum is now completed and is in the hands of the DFE.

The BCS and RAEng did consult with teachers and a select number of other skills groups when creating the draft, but Gover was critical of the fact that most of this consultation occurred in private members forums, chiefly the Computing at School (CAS) forum.

"The difficulty was teachers had to find this forum before they could contribute their views," says Gover.

Gover says he had been monitoring developments on the CAS forums closely to feedback developments to subject leaders in Somerset schools.

"It's only really people like me who have the time to find these forums who will be contributing to the discussion," he adds.

Gover also says that the decision by the BCS and RAEng to hold the initial consultation for just one week before creating a draft document may have also hampered the opportunities for true reform.

"You can't do a draft document in a couple of weeks. This process has been far too quick. Were the BCS the right agency [for the DFE to give this job to? That is the question. There is not enough knowledge coming into the process from schools."

"Other education bodies need to be more heavily involved and why are students not being more involved?" he asks.

Gover argues the consultation should have taken place back when the Royal Society first published its report on the poor state of ICT education in schools back in January 2012.

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