The Corporate IT Forum Education and Skills Commission has condemned the UK Government’s decision to scrap the ICT curriculum in schools from this September.
Members of the commission, who include large corporations, educators and UK trade bodies, are urging the government to keep the current programme in place until a new computer science-based curriculum is introduced in September 2014.
John Harris, chair of the Corporate IT Forum and chief architect and head of IT strategy at global pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline, said the commission was disappointed government had not listened to its concerns about withdrawing the ICT curriculum from schools before the new programme is introduced.
“While we agree that the current ICT curriculum is failing to meet the needs of employers and should be improved as a matter of urgency, we are extremely concerned that the absence of a programme of study or attainment targets for any period of time will widen the gap between the best and worst ICT teaching in schools to an unacceptable level, effectively condemning large numbers of children to receiving little or no ICT teaching at all,” said Harris.
Computer science teaching programme in 2014
Michael Gove, secretary of state for education, made the initial announcement at the beginning of this year, explaining the government’s intention to remove the existing national curriculum programmes of study for ICT.
According to the government, the existing programmes of study and attainment targets for ICT are no longer fit for purpose and teachers are looking for more ambitious ways of using technology and computer science.
The government decided ICT will continue as a national curriculum subject, with new statutory programmes of study at all four key stages, from September 2014.
Harris said removing the current ICT curriculum in September, two years before it is replaced by a new computer science teaching programme, will exacerbate the present IT skills crisis.
Harris said: “It is now absolutely critical that the government works with universities and employers to ensure the new computer science curriculum in schools will be sufficiently innovative and exciting, both to attract more young people into IT careers and to create business leaders who understand the possibilities that technology provides.
“The commission will continue to work to ensure that corporate users of ICT in the UK have a say in creating a new computer science curriculum that reflects our future employment needs.”
The Corporate IT Forum Education and Skills Commission responded to the Department for Education’s public consultation on proposals to revoke the current ICT curriculum in April instead.