The future of IT in education
With the announcement of the scrapping of the current IT curriculum and the development of a course focused on core knowledge, the future teaching of ICT is undergoing a dramatic shift.
The IT curriculum has received criticism from numerous sectors for being unfit for purpose. Many within the IT industry have commented that the IT curriculum has failed to teach students key abilities and does not provide applicable skills for entry into the IT industry.
The chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, attacked the teaching of IT within the UK last year, saying that the failure to teach IT was “throwing away your great computing heritage.” A study by e-Skills found that respondents viewed IT GSCE as being “so harmful, boring and/or irrelevant it should simply be scrapped”.
In the current economic climate, the IT industry has been an example of good news for the UK economy, demonstrating growth and seeing the creation of innovative start-ups. Silicon Roundabout and Tech City have received backing from the government, which views the IT industry as being a key sector in stimulating economic recovery.
The new curriculum will affect both GSCEs and A-level courses and will focus on providing software development and programming skills to students. The government having taken on board concerns from the IT industry and has consulted widely with organisations to ensure that the new curriculum provides the skills that the industry desires. IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft are just some of the companies that were involved in the shaping of the programme. The new programme is to be a shorter intensive course in order to allow for teaching flexibility.
The new curriculum will be implemented from September 2014, while the current curriculum is to be withdrawn from this September. The removal of the IT curriculum at the end of this year without a planned viable replacement for two years has raised concern. John Harris, head of IT strategy at GlaxoSmithKline, commented: ““We are very disappointed that the government has not listened to our concerns about withdrawing the ICT curriculum from schools before the new computer science programme is introduced in 2014.”
Skills Commission opposes changes to ICT curriculum
The new curriculum has raised concern over the limited numbers of expert IT teachers and the practicalities of delivering the new curriculum when there is a shortage of staff. Prof Steve Furber of the Royal Society said: “We look forward to hearing more about how the government intends to support non-specialist teachers who make up the majority of the workforce in delivering an excellent ICT education without official guidance on lesson content”.
The new curriculum programme, while raising concerns over its implementation has been generally welcomed. Education secretary, Michael Gove, has said: “Imagine the dramatic change which could be possible in just a few years, once we remove the roadblock of the existing ICT curriculum.” With the backing of a growing UK IT industry the curriculum has the potential to revitalise IT education and provide students with the skills that the industry requires.