11 Jan 2012

‘Boring’ ICT lessons to be wiped

As Michael Gove says pupils are “bored” by school computer lessons, an ICT strategy leader tells Channel 4 News there are many “innovative teachers” keen to get coding onto the curriculum.

Education Secretary Michael Gove wants to scrap the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) curriculum from this September to allow schools to decide for themselves what to teach.

He called the current situation a “mess” in his speech to delegates at the BETT education conference in London.

“Schools, teachers and industry leaders have all told us that the current curriculum is too off-putting, too demotivating, too dull,” he said.

“Instead of children bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word and Excel by bored teachers, we could have 11-year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations using an MIT tool called Scratch.

In order to realise the ambitions outlined in Michael Gove’s speech, we are certainly going to have to ensure that teacher training is fit for purpose. Josie Fraser

“By 16, they could have an understanding of formal logic previously covered only in university courses and be writing their own apps for smartphones.”

Submissions to the current curriculum review from technology groups say that the current ICT curriculum is “unsatisfactory”, he added, with many worried that “it doesn’t stretch pupils enough or allow enough opportunities for innovation and experimentation”.

Josie Fraser, ICT strategy lead at Leicester City Council, told Channel 4 News there is no shortage of “enthusiastic and innovative teachers”.

But she said: “What we don’t currently have is consistent practice – the assurance that every learner will benefit from parity of opportunity to be supported, and will leave school at 16 as a confident, competent and critical user of technology.

Computers - Getty

“We also have ICT qualifications which many learners do not find exciting – which don’t challenge and stimulate them, and exam specifications which don’t account for the kinds of creative use of applications, processes and programmes that go on – and are required – in the real world.”

She added: “In order to realise the ambitions outlined in Michael Gove’s speech, we are certainly going to have to ensure that teacher training is fit for purpose and that staff are supported in developing and tapping into ongoing professional development networks.

“ICT teachers are not necessarily familiar with or confident with programming.”

Under the scheme, schools will be free to use lessons and resources that have been developed by experts, the Department for Education said.

As examples, it cited the British Computing Society and Computing at School, which have created a curriculum for secondary schools with support from Microsoft, Google and Cambridge University.

Your view on Facebook.com/Channel4News
Andrew Kowalyk: My daughter who's in year 8 says ICT is a complete waste of time.. She says her and her classmates can run rings around the teacher in regards to it.... She deffo won't be choosing it as an option...
Wendy McHahon: As the mother of a teenager and a lecturer at Uni, I find that the whole thing about the young being 'digitally native' to be largely a myth! My students are mostly terrified of technology and my son has to come to me to find out how to do things!
Rich Schwedhelm: It's not the young that need computer training, it's those with TECHNOFEAR
Jennifer White: If you teach kids IT in the same way you did 15 years ago, well then there is no point. But there is def room for it now. What about advanced coding, creating effective network systems, using IT in Maths and design etc.
Lewis Ian Allan Marshall: Some people seem to fail to realise that using and understanding computers is completely different. And few people my age understand computers, but most could use a PC quite proficiently.
Tim Hill: Speaking to a chap at work the other day, and his 3 y/o can google i-player and watch cbeebies.. amazing!!!