Skills Commission warns government against withdrawing ICT curriculum

By Sooraj Shah
11 Apr 2012 View Comments

A commission comprising UK IT leaders and educational experts has warned the government against proposals to remove the current ICT curriculum in schools from September.

The existing ICT curriculum, which teaches students to use computing applications such as spreadsheets, is to be scrapped from September and replaced with one focused on computer science and programming in September 2014.

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At the time it was proposed, the move was lauded by the IT industry, but members of the Education and Skills Commission now fear that the removal of existing mandatory activities will result in some schools not providing ICT education at all for two years.

The commission was established by The Corporate IT Forum, a body that represents corporate users of ICT in the UK. It has 25 members from a range of private and public sector organisations and is aimed at tackling what it sees as a growing IT skills crisis.

"We strongly believe that something is better than nothing, and while the school curriculum content needs to change to prepare young people for study in IT-related subjects at university, there should be no disapplication ahead of substitution," said the commission's chairman, John Harris, chief architect and head of IT strategy at pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline.

"We already have a major ICT skills crisis. These proposals, if they go ahead, could widen the gap between the best and the worst ICT teaching in schools to an unacceptable level and lead to even greater problems by 2020," he said.

The warning is published in the commission's response to the Department for Education's public consultation on its proposals to scrap the current ICT curriculum, which closes today.

As part of its recommendations, the commission said that schools should develop different approaches to ICT teaching by: regularly updating study materials; encouraging ICT teachers to take placements at ICT companies and end user organisations; building closer links with ICT-dependent organisations; and recruiting expert ICT teachers.

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