Google's donation of 15,000 Raspberry Pi computers and last week's decision by Education Secretary Michael Gove to add computer science to the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) are a mere "diversion" from the UK's real problems in IT education, the chair of Support for Education and Training (SET), Bob Harrison, has told Computing.
Responding to Gove's announcement at the British Education Training and Technology (BETT) show in London last week, Harrison said: "This time last year, Michael Gove stood up at this conference and told the ICT teachers in our country that they were doing a bad job, and that the ICT teaching is dull and boring.
"Unfortunately, that didn't correspond with evidence produced by Ofsted, which said that in over two-thirds of the schools, especially primary schools, the teaching of ICT was ‘good' to ‘outstanding' in the majority of schools.
"It begs the question, ‘Where was he coming from, and why was he saying that?'," Harrison said.
"The background to that is the Royal Society report on computing in schools, which was called - there's a bit of a clue in the title here - Shut Down or Restart. And then you look at who paid for it: Microsoft, Google and a dozen or so computer science departments of universities who had seen their enrolement for computer science degrees plummet to about a third of what they were 10 years ago.
"It begs the question, ‘What was their agenda?'," said Harrison.
Harrison told Computing he believes the "EBacc stuff and the Raspberry Pi stuff is a diversion from what the really crucial issue is: can we ensure that the vast majority of our young people have sufficient levels of digital literacy, and enthusiasm to continue their learning, so that they can develop their skills to be effective digital citizens and workers in a digital world?"
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