‘Pupils need better IT teaching, not more technology,’ say industry experts

Industry bodies have hit out against an outdated IT curriculum and unenthusiastic teaching staff

Industry bodies have hit out against an outdated IT curriculum and unenthusiastic teaching staff as reasons for low student take-up of the subject at school.

Bill Mitchell, director of the chartered institute for IT's BCS Academy, said that while educational technology trade shows such as BETT showcase some great technology, schools should first address the way the subject is taught before making investments.

"We need far more teachers who are specialists in IT. The best way to motivate children is by having teachers who are interested and excited by the subject. Rather than being bored by PowerPoint, students should be allowed to use a range of software packages and get creative. Even primary school kids could be taught how to create a game.

"We need also need better continual professional development for teachers because they need help to increase and build on their skills," he added.

Many schools already have a decent supply of teaching tools at their disposal, and there are loads of free resources to be found online, said John Hoggard, programme manager at industry body Intellect.

He added, "The priority should be to use what's out there more effectively, including collaborating and exchanging best practice with other schools and teachers. Once this has been done, if teachers feel they are lacking technology that can make a huge difference to their lessons and inspire learners, they should be able to go out and fill the gap."

Richard Holway, industry analyst, agreed that giving students access to the latest technology can help to get them excited about the subject, but said the most important issue is improving the IT curriculum and standard of teaching in schools.

"The real problem is the IT education people get in schools, which is not relevant and puts people off. What would inspire people is developing an Apple app in their bedroom, for example," he said.

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