Education body Ofsted has admitted that it has often overlooked the subject of IT when carrying out full school inspections because of time constraints.
The government is currently reviewing the IT curriculum in schools because there is widespread agreement that students are bored by the subject, and are left unprepared to study computer science and related subjects at university level.
On Tuesday, at the Westminster Education Forum, Ofsted was accused of adding to the poor IT standards in schools by rating schools as "outstanding" in inspections even when IT teaching is not up to scratch.
Ofsted national advisor for ICT, David Brown, speaking at the forum, acknowledged some degree of culpability on Ofsted's behalf.
"I think the issue, as someone who has led teams on full school inspections, is that often we do not have the time to look at a subject in depth," suggested Brown.
"This tends not to happen in the core subjects, but it certainly happens in subjects like ICT and in subjects like music. There is a concern in Ofsted that this can happen."
At the event Brown also addressed the gender imbalance that exists in the IT sector - an imbalance that has its roots in the education system.
Brown said that both Ofsted and the Department of Education had studied the problem in schools.
"What we have found is that the poor uptake of IT amongst girls in Key Stage 4 and 5. This is largely when schools do not communicate with the private sector."
Desmond Deehan, the headteacher at Townley Grammar School for Girls, agreed that the shortage of girls in the UK IT industry is largely due to a lack of role models.
"There are few computing role models coming into UK schools. What students need is meaningful contact with the industry. This is a model the US follows - the industry works closely with the education sector. We took students to Silicon Valley and we took them to Google where they saw 50 per cent of the employees there were women."
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