Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/21/bin_ict_classes/

ICT classes in school should be binned – IT biz body

Stop pretending basic knowledge is a specialist subject

By Lewis Page

Posted in Government, 21st April 2011 08:10 GMT

Schools should stop teaching ICT lessons in their current form as the subject is failing both pupils and employers, according to trade bod Intellect.

"We believe that ICT in its current form should not be a statutory programme of study," says John Hoggard, Intellect education honcho.

"Takeup of ICT courses is falling – GCSE courses in ICT show a 57 per cent decline in numbers between 2005 and 2010.  And the basic ICT skills being generated by the education system are not meeting the needs of pupils or their potential employers. Our member companies tell us that they often have to spend considerable time up-skilling employees as a result of the current ICT teaching," he added.

Intellect and its biz partners believe that the way ahead is to embed basic ICT competency across every subject and teach higher-value computing skills separately. The organisation's response to a recent gov review of the national curriculum says that computing should be a separate subject available to pupils from Key Stage 3 onwards with options to follow a progression path where they learn increasingly more advanced skills. Intellect also says that computing should also be part of the English Baccalaureate.

Intellect's industry partners suggest that apart from advanced computing skills for some and ICT competence for all there is a critical need for general mathematics-based sci/tech knowledge – an area often referred to as STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths).

"STEM skills and a flow of students with those skills are not only crucial to the future success of our business but also to the success of the UK high tech industry," says Tim Hatch of Intel, who is a member of Intellect's education group.

"Intel sees other countries, especially emerging markets, evaluating the skills they need and developing curriculums to match to ensure future growth.  It is vital that we develop our advanced computing, STEM and basic ICT skills in the UK to ensure we can compete with these emerging economies and this work needs to begin in our schools."

Intellect argues that interactive and multimedia technology should be used across all lessons, which would help every pupil, no matter what subjects they might later choose to specialise in, to acquire ICT competency. The organisation suggests that tech biz could play a role by supporting training for teachers.

Intellect's document on ICT and computing in schools can be read here (four-page PDF/137KB). ®