Ofsted report: ICT teaching in the UK is 'inadequate'

By Sooraj Shah
14 Dec 2011 View Comments
Student using a laptop in a lecture

A fifth of the schools in England are providing 'inadequate' ICT classes according to a report from education regulator Ofsted released today. 

The report, called ICT In Schools 2008-2011, was compiled following inspections of 167 primary, secondary and special schools across the country. 

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Ofsted found that IT teaching in over half of the primary schools was good or outstanding and this was also the case for 29 of the 74 secondary schools.

However, it also said that the lack of an effective challenge for higher-attaining students and poor coverage of the IT curriculum had limited the success of ICT teaching in secondary schools.

In addition, the report stated that the number of students in England entered for the GCSE and A-levels has declined 61 per cent since 2007, from 81,100 to 31,800 in 2011.

There has also been a drop of 23 per cent in students taking A-level IT since 2007.

The education regulator said that in 30 of the 74 secondary schools visited, nearly half the students reached 16 without a decent foundation for further study or training in IT and related subjects.

It said that many schools had virtual learning environments but a big challenge for the future was to commission and procure the right IT equipment, infrastructure and software to help students develop their skills.

Ofsted said that only a few secondary schools engaged with local IT businesses to encourage students to have a career in IT.

This comes after a report from the UK Commision for Employment and Skills (UKCES) released yesterday, called The UKCES Employer Ownership Skills report, which said that businesses should work with employees and training providers to design and develop training that their business needs for growth. It also said this should run alongside government funding. 

The IT industry has long been calling for the IT skills gap, which describes the lack of suitable ICT skills within the UK workforce, to be plugged using public and private sector collaboration such as that described above.   

The UKCES report added that with support from government investment, employers will be given more freedom to deliver training such as apprenticeships and work experience.

Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the UKCES believes that the current system for skills development is not working in the UK.

"We have two markets for skills development; a publicly funded market built around qualifications, and a privately funded training market addressing business needs. These two markets do not align sufficiently, which perpetuates the debate about a skills system that fails to meet employer needs and supply-side initiatives lacking employer investment," he said in the report.

Last month, PM David Cameron said the government would invest £250m into trials for employer-led training programmes in a range of working environments that could include IT. Employers will be invited to bid for a share of the fund in the new year.

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