School ICT To Be Replaced By Computer Science Programme

The current programme of information and communications technology (ICT) study in England's schools will be scrapped from September, the education secretary will announce later.

The current programme of information and communications technology (ICT) study in England's schools will be scrapped from September, the education secretary will announce later.

Schools will be free to use teaching resources that will equip pupils for the 21st CenturyThe subject will be replaced by compulsory lessons in more rigorous computer science and programming.

Michael Gove will call the current ICT curriculum "harmful and dull".

He will say that he will begin a consultation next week on a new computing curriculum.

He will say this will create young people "able to work at the forefront of technological change".

Speaking at the BETT show for educational technology in London, Mr Gove will announce plans to free up schools to use curricula and teaching resources that properly equip pupils for the 21st Century.

He will say that resources, developed by experts, are already available online to help schools teach computer science and he wants universities and businesses to devise new courses and exams, particularly a new computing GCSE.

The education secretary will say that the inadequate grounding in computing offered by the current curriculum is in danger of damaging Britain's economic prospects.

He will call for a revival of the legacy of British computer pioneer Alan Turing whose work in the 1930s laid the foundation of the modern computing industry.

"Imagine the dramatic change which could be possible in just a few years, once we remove the roadblock of the existing ICT curriculum.

"Instead of children bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word or Excel by bored teachers, we could have 11-year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations," he will say.

Computer games entrepreneur Ian Livingstone, an adviser to Mr Gove, envisages a new curriculum that could have 16-year-olds creating their own apps for smartphones and 18-year-olds able to write their own simple programming language.

'Slaves to the interface'

Mr Livingstone, co-author of last year's Next Gen report which highlighted the poor quality of computer teaching in schools, told BBC news: "The current lessons are essentially irrelevant to today's generation of children who can learn PowerPoint in a week."

"It's a travesty given our heritage as the most creative nation in the world.

"Children are being forced to learn how to use applications, rather than to make them. They are becoming slaves to the user interface and are totally bored by it," he said.

Other experts voiced concerns about a shortage of teachers qualified to deliver the new curriculum.

Bill Mitchell, of British Computing Society, said: "It is tremendous that Michael Gove is personally endorsing the importance of teaching computer science in schools.

"There are, of course, significant challenges to overcome, specifically with the immediate shortage of computer science teachers."

While Prof Steve Furber, chairman of an imminent Royal Society report on computing in schools, said non-specialist teachers might find the plethora of alternative teaching resources confusing.

"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," he said.