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Government plans risk killing off school ICT education

Gove plan to sweep aside current ICT curriculum could leave total vacuum, warns academic

Schools and industry stakeholders should make sure that Michael Gove's plans to completely remove the existing ICT curriculum in September do not go ahead, the Open University (OU) has said.

Worryingly, some teachers are using the education minister's proposal to reform the ICT curriculum as an excuse to take out all teaching of computing as it would no longer be assessed until a new curriculum is implemented - which could take more than a year.

"We are seeing schools saying they don't have to be assessed [in ICT teaching] anymore from September. It is going to free schools to think they do not have to teach IT so much," Dr Peter Twining, senior lecturer at the OU, warned at a roundtable in London today.

"People should not dis-apply ICT from the curriculum. We could be without a curriculum for two years.

He added: "[It would be better to] have the existing curriculum and work on something new [at the same time]."

Twining is also director of the Department for Education-funded Vital programme, a professional development programme for teachers to make better use of technology in schools.

The Department for Education (DfE) is currently running a 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.

One of the challenges to the implementation of a new ICT curriculum is the lack of qualified teachers to teach the subject, Twining said, echoing concerns that computing teachers raised in response to Gove's announcement in January.

However, it is not just about having the right technical skills.

"The reality is the good teachers are the minority," Twining said.

"They are succeeding because they have a radically different view of how education should be delivered. They people are doing it in spite of the system and technology is a facilitator, not the thing that drives it. What drives [teachers] is their passion."

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