Friday, 21 September 2012

DfE Commits to Producing a New PoS for ICT

If you go to you will see that behind the scenes there has been some activity on the ICT curriculum.
It appears that the hint early this year that ICT specifications may be dropped has been rethought. The webpage states "On the 18th September 2012 the DfE signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the British Computer Society (BCS) and the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) which invites them to coordinate the development of the draft ICT PoS covering all pupils in Key Stages 1 to 4.
The group bringing forward proposals intend to publish the draft curriculum on the website on 1st October they say they "will be keen to get feedback. Block time in your diary to respond because you will only have about one week to do so (all feedback on the first full draft of the ICT PoS has to be in by 12 noon on the 9th October)."
This is very good news for all those who think ICT needs to be a statutory part of the national curriculum. It's also very important to respond to the consultation so that the final proposal represents a wide range of thinking.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Royal Society Report on ICT and Computing in Schools

Michael Gove’s speechwriter had probably read this before drafting the BETT address I discussed in my previous post. The Royal Society’s conclusions align closely with the direction of that address. The speech also refers to the report; Gove says “I'm looking forward to” reading it. It is therefore very likely that the recommendations will shape government strategy.
The Royal Society outlines a number of issues;

  1. the current ICT national curriculum tends to result in some shallow teaching
  2. there is a shortage of qualified teachers who can take it deeper
  3. there is a lack of CPD for teachers of computing
  4. school ICT infrastructures inhibit effective teaching of Computing
  5. the status of computing in schools needs to be lifted, and 
  6. there needs to be better computing qualifications.

Here is are their recommendations;

  1. ‘ICT’ as a term  should no longer be used but be replaced by digital literacy, Information Technology and Computer Science,
  2. the “government should set targets for the number of Computer Science and Information Technology specialist teachers, and monitor recruitment against these targets in order to allow all schools to deliver a rigorous curriculum”,
  3. the government should “set a minimum level of provision for subject-specific CPD for Computing teachers”,
  4. providers of managed service should “prepare a set of off-the-shelf strategies for balancing network security against the need to enable good teaching and learning in Computer Science and Information Technology”,
  5. “technical resources should be available in all schools to support the teaching of Computer Science and Information technology” examples might be “pupil-friendly programming environments such as Scratch, educational micro-controller kits such as PICAXE and Arduino, and robot kits such as Lego Mindstorms”,
  6. the curriculum orders need rewriting,
  7. KS4 computing science courses need developing, and
  8. there should be greater out-of-hours opportunities for doing computer science.

Numbers 3, 5 and 8 have resource implications and are therefore less likely to be enacted by the present government. We already know that Gove is considering (has decided) to suspend the national curriculum orders for ICT so number 6 is similarly ill-fated. 

I haven't thoroughly read the report, only the executive summary and then skimmed the main body. It's a sizeable document at 85 pages and 8 appendices. It's also full to bursting with typos; scientists eh!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Michael Gove's Speech at BETT 2012

The fact that the Secretary of State has made a speech opening the technology in education trade show is in itself a very significant fact. In the first few months after coming into office all the signals were that ICT was very much off the schools agenda. The Harnessing Technology Grant was redirected to fund Free Schools, Becta was closed and the Building Schools for the Future Programme was ended. Michael Gove subsequently stressed traditional educational values and subjects. But this latest speech confirms a new approach; a view that technology is essential to schools and education policy.

Key Messages 

 Gove offered us some insights. He observed that technology has transformed many industries, but not education. He proposed that technology can make it possible;

  • “to disseminate learning much more widely than ever before”, and gave the example of the Khan Academy
  • to change teaching, for example “games and interactive software can help pupils acquire complicated skills and rigorous knowledge in an engaging and enjoyable way”
  • to bring “unprecedented opportunities for assessment ... Brailes Primary School, for example, a small rural school on the border of Warwickshire and Oxfordshire, uses online tools enabling teachers to use pre-assembled tests, or design tests of their own” 

He made it clear that the present programme of study and qualifications in ICT are not good enough.


 The Secretary of State went on from these remarks to outline a programme that would address these issues and opportunities. He was clear that this was not about “hardware or procurement”. He said that “we need to improve the training of teachers so that they have the skills and knowledge they need to make the most of the opportunities ahead”. The Secretary of State announced a “£2m programme to fund and research innovative technology projects in schools”. He stated that “Teaching Schools across the country are already forming networks to help other schools develop and improve their use of technology. The Department for Education is going to provide dedicated funding to Teaching Schools to support this work”.

To tackle the problems with the current ICT curriculum and qualifications he announced that “the Department for Education is opening a consultation on withdrawing the existing National Curriculum Programme of Study for ICT from September this year” and that no replacement would be provided. He was clear that “ICT will remain compulsory at all key stages, and will still be taught at every stage of the curriculum”. Michael Gove further stated that “we're encouraging rigorous Computer Science courses” and that “Computer Science is a rigorous, fascinating and intellectually challenging subject”. He even suggested that “we will certainly consider including Computer Science as an option in the English Baccalaureate”.

Discussion of these and many other issues is being carried through at
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