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Government launches official consultation on IT teaching curriculum

07 Feb 2013
School children using a computer

The government has finally launched its public consultation on the draft National Curriculum, which includes a complete overhaul of the current ICT curriculum, which may be renamed ‘computing'.

Education secretary Michael Gove said he would be asking the education community for views on the new name for the subject. 

In January 2012, the government announced it would bin the current ICT curriculum for five to 16-year-olds for being irrelevant and boring.

The first draft of the new ICT curriculum was designed by the British Computer Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering and was unveiled briefly in October. The curriculum was then handed back to the Department for Education for final amendments.

The current draft for the new ‘computing' subject is very similar to initial BCS and RAEng recommendations.

The four-page computing curriculum that has been put forward is up to date with modern technology and terms, and is much broader in its focus, with more attention given to computer science disciplines, digital media, the web and e-safety.

At the final Key Stage 4, when students are required to begin their GCSE studies, the original ICT curriculum laid out the need for pupils to design ICT systems and techniques to suit needs, solve problems and automate events.

However the new draft ICT curriculum only gives minimal requirements for pupils at Key Stage 4. They should be taught how to develop their capability, creativity and knowledge in computer science, digital media and IT, and how to apply their analytic and computational thinking skills.

The computing draft curriculum also seeks to present the subject as a science, and clearly hopes to link computing with other subjects.

"A high-quality computing education equips pupils to understand and change the world through computational thinking. It develops and requires logical thinking and precision. It combines creativity with rigour: pupils apply underlying principles to understand real-world systems, and to create purposeful and usable artefacts," the first draft of the draft curriculum states.

"More broadly, it provides a lens through which to understand both natural and artificial systems, and has substantial links with the teaching of mathematics, science, and design and technology."

So far comments on the new computing curriculum the DfE has put forward have been positive.

"The change of name to computing is an extremely important signal to pupils, parents, schools, employers and universities that this is a new subject based on science and engineering principles," said BCS director Bill Mitchell.

Gove also today made a u-turn on plans to ditch GCSEs with a baccalaureate model of exam.

MAKE IT BETTER logoV3 has been running a Make IT Better campaign since November last year, calling on the DfE to consult nationally on the new ICT/Computing curriculum as soon as possible.

V3 believed the views of teachers, education advisors and IT professionals should have been included in the ICT curriculum reform from the start. Such a curriculum is more likely to inspire young people into the IT industry, which is already struggling with severe skills shortages.

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