Secondary schools failing teenagers in computing

IT education

Secondary schools failing teenagers in computing

Karl Flinders

An Ofsted report has revealed a worrying lack of computing skills being taught in schools, with half of 14 to 16-year-old pupils not being taught ICT.

The three-year study – ICT in schools 2008 to 2011 – inspected 167 primary, secondary and special schools. It revealed that ICT teaching was good or outstanding at two-thirds of primary schools, while only a third of secondary schools were similarly rated.

Things have not improved at secondary schools since Ofsted’s last report, with many of the weaknesses seen in the secondary school sample found to be similar to the findings of Ofsted’s previous ICT report.

Over half of primary school pupils achieved a good or outstanding ICT skills level, but only 29 of 74 secondary school pupils reached similar levels. Pupils at one-fifth of secondary schools had inadequate IT skills.

The report said the Department for Education should embed the report’s findings in its review of the national curriculum.

It also said the department “should set out clearly the pivotal role of ICT in school improvement and in preparing young people for higher education and for skilled work”.

Secondary schools and primary schools were advised on how to improve ICT teaching and pupil achievement.

Suggestions included improving the use of assessment of pupils’ progress in ICT, ensuring that pupils know how well they are doing, and ensuring that pupils receive their complete entitlement to all areas of ICT.

It also advised schools to encourage girls to continue studying ICT beyond the ages of 14 and 16, as well as ensuring that all students can use ICT tools in all the subjects they are studying.

Derek Drury, CIO at Salford University, was surprised by the headlines. “It surprises me because we get people coming in from secondary schools every year and they have a high level of computer skills,” he said.

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