Royal Society says UK in dire need of specialist ICT teachers

By Sooraj Shah
13 Jan 2012 View Comments
Classroom Training

The biggest challenge in the ongoing fight to improve ICT skills in the UK is the dearth of specialist ICT teachers, according to an IT education report released today by science and technology body the Royal Society.

The report, called Shut down or restart? The way forward for computing in schools deals with some of the same issues as two previous reports released last year, one from school inspection body Ofsted and the other from National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), that both criticised the quality of computing teaching in the UK.

Further reading

The Royal Society report took 18 months to complete and listed the following problems with ICT teaching in schools:

  • The subject is too broadly interpreted and therefore allows for non-specialist teachers to deliver it as a subject;
  • There are a shortage of teachers who are able to teach beyond basic digital literacy;
  • Teacher training is not currently sufficient to keep computing teachers abreast of advances in the subject.

The recommendations laid out by the report to address these issues include:

  • Setting recruitment targets for Computer Science and IT specialist teachers;
  • Providing training bursaries to attract qualified graduates to teach with the help of industry funding;
  • Teachers should be provided with regular refresher courses to ensure their knowledge is up to date. 

The report follows Education Secretary Michael Gove's announcement earlier this week that the government would scrap the current ICT curriculum and replace it with one focused on computer science. The Royal Society is in favour of the move but argues that the problem of poor computing teaching is an equally important issue.

Steve Furber, FRS Chair of the Royal Society, said: "Action is needed not only on the curriculum itself, but also to recruit and train inspiring teachers to reinvigorate pupils' enthusiasm for computing."

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