Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/05/18/govt_ict_education_sme/

UK.gov: ICT in schools ain't dead, it's just resting

And there'll be tech contracts for the kids when they grow up, honest

By Brid-Aine Parnell

Posted in Government, 18th May 2012 13:19 GMT

The UK government denied today that it was dropping IT entirely from the national curriculum while adding that tech contracts would be more bite-sized and flexible at some point soon.

Back in January Education Secretary Michael Gove said he was axing the current ICT classes and getting folks together for one of those well-loved consultations to change way technology is taught.

He denounced the existing IT lessons as "dull and demotivating", and by binning the previous programme of study to draw up a new one, teachers will in the meantime be free to teach how and what they wanted "revolutionising ICT as we know it".

However, Conservative MP for Pendle Andrew Stephenson was somewhat baffled, and this week asked Gove to gauge the impact of dumping computer skills from the curriculum on the future employability of Blighty's youth.

The minister for schools and education Nick Gibb replied in a statement that the government was not planning to get rid of ICT altogether.

"Our proposal to disapply the existing Programmes of Study and associated attainment targets and assessment arrangements for ICT is an interim measure intended to give schools more flexibility to develop courses of study in ICT that meet the needs of their pupils more effective," he explained.

He added that ICT would still be a compulsory subject and the public consultation had already garnered 333 responses, including comments relating to employability. How the students in the temporary position of getting free-thinking ICT lessons will be affected was not something Gibb addressed.

On the subject of not quite answering the question, Mark Prisk, the minister for business and enterprise did some long-winded expounding on the question of supporting small and medium IT companies - the very firms that will pick up Britain's tech-skilled youngsters.

Graham Brady, Conservative MP for Altrincham and Sale West, asked what steps the government was taking to assist SMEs in the IT sector and whether it was repackaging public sector contracts into small, medium and large projects so that little firms could get a look in.

Prisk gave a long and involved answer about how the government was helping SMEs get the support and advice they need to start and grow, how it was ensuring they could get the finance they need and ensuring that regulation supports business growth.

Nowhere in this did he mention IT. He did get around to addressing some of the question at the end of his answer though, saying that Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude had already sorted the bite-sized contract stuff out.

"Mr Maude announced that, in future, government IT contracts will be more flexible, starting with two areas (application software and infrastructure IT)," Prisk said.

"The government is introducing set breakpoints in IT contracts so there is less money locked into large lengthy contracts. The government will look to disaggregate future contracts and deliver flexible, cheaper solutions. This opens up opportunities for SMEs and reduces the cost to taxpayers." ®