Intellect, the trade body for the UK’s technology sector, has called on the government to drop ICT lessons in their current form from the national curriculum as it believes the subject is failing both pupils and employers.
In its response to the Department for Education review of the national curriculum Intellect calls on the government to replace ICT with lessons that focus on higher value computer science skills and to teach ICT by embedding its use across every other subject.
John Hoggard, Intellect’s education programme manager said that the current ICT curriculum is too focussed on teaching pupils how to use a limited number of software packages and fails to inspire students to develop more advanced computer science skills
“We believe that ICT in its current form should not be a statutory programme of study. Take up of ICT courses is falling – for example, 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,” added Hoggard.
Intellect has recommended to the DFE that computing should be a discrete subject available to pupils from Key Stage 3 onwards with options to follow a progression path where they learn increasingly more advanced skills. Computing should also be part of the English Baccalaureate.
Tim Hatch, member of Intellect’s Education Group and education and public sector Business Development Manager at Intel said: “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. 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.”
Nicola Herbertson, member of Intellect’s Education Group and director of Hao2.eu said: “The success of social enterprises like ours depends on young people who are confident, creative and curious in using ICT and multimedia to express themselves and increase their networks and knowledge. I would like to see teachers being supported in embedding ICT and multimedia in Key Stage 1 & 2 and promoting earlier access to STEM pathways, especially to young people with special needs and girls who continue to be under-represented in the IT industry.”
To ensure all pupils have basic ICT skills, interactive and multimedia technology should be used across all lessons, which Intellect believes will help pupils develop ICT skills and greater creativity.
To help teachers understand how best to use ICT in every lesson Intellect has said that technology businesses could play a role by supporting training so that teachers can make best use of the equipment in schools.
Intellect is the trade association for the UK’s technology sector which includes the IT, telecoms and electronics industries. Intellect has 780 member companies ranging from major multinationals to SMEs which account for approximately 10per cent of UK GDP. For more information about Intellect please visit: www.intellectuk.org.