BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, has called for schools to help develop computer science as a rigorous academic part of the reformed ICT curriculum.

Part of this would be to join a computer science teaching network that the Institute is looking to set up.

At the BETT show in January education minister Michael Gove announced that the existing National Curriculum Programme of Study for ICT would be withdrawn from September 2012.

The Department for Education (DfE) then launched a 12-week public consultation on the proposal to develop a new curriculum that would allow schools and teachers to have more freedom to teach ICT in "creative, innovative and inspirational" ways, and to make way for "rigorous computer science". The consultation closes on 11 April 2012.

To encourage schools to take part in the overhaul of the ICT curriculum, BCS has sent an information pack to every head teacher of a state secondary school in England to explain the opportunities to influence the new curriculum. The pack was sent in partnership with industry association Intellect, the Computing At School Working Group (CAS) and Microsoft.

It set out a range of options that were available to schools, such as reviewing the existing and new computer science GCSEs being offered and providing feedback to the exam boards.

One recommendation was for schools to read the Royal Society's 'Shut down or restart: the way forward for computing in UK schools' report, which clarifies ICT teaching and suggests ways in which ICT can be taught as three streams: computer science, information technology and digital literacy.

"We feel this report is a must-read for all schools wishing to succeed in deepening and broadening their ICT offering in line with DfE expectations," BCS chief executive David Clarke and Intellect director general John Higgins wrote in the information pack covering letter.

The organisations included a summary of the Royal Society report in the information pack, a copy of the CAS's curriculum for computing, a suggested framework for the new curriculum, developed by CAS and BCS, and the details of a proposal to set up a 'network of computer science teaching excellence'.

At the moment, schools are only being asked for expressions of interest in joining the network. As members, they would be offered CPD (continuing professional development) for a teacher in their school to give them comprehensive grounding in foundational computer science and equip them with the skills to train other teachers.

They would also be supported by universities in the network and form part of a regional teaching hub for sharing good practice.

In return, if the scheme goes ahead, each school in the network will be expected to help at least one other school to teach computer science on a pro-bono basis.

Schools can register their interest in joining the network here, before 30 April.