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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