Draft ICT Programme of Study now available for comment

November 29, 2012 at 7:09 am 1 comment

The process that started with the Royal Society’s report on the state of computer science education in UK schools has now resulted in a new draft program of study, available for comment. It’s interesting to contrast with CS:Principles and Exploring Computer Science as two US curricula aiming to, similarly, give students the computing knowledge and skills that they need for modern society.

In his speech to BETT on 11 January, the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove responded to the call from industry by starting a consultation on withdrawing the existing National Curriculum Programme of Study for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) from September this year. The intention was to allow the development of innovative, exciting and rigorous new ICT courses in advance of the launch of the new National Curriculum in 2014. Following consultation, the government confirmed on 11 June that it was their intention to proceed and that ICT would be a compulsory subject up to Key Stage 4 with its own Programme of Study.

In late August 2012 the DfE invited BCS and the Royal Academy of Engineering to coordinate the drafting of a new Programme of Study for ICT. In discussion with DfE, BCS and the Royal Academy of Engineering decided to follow the following process

  • Form a small working party to write a first draft.
  • Publish this first draft in late October, and seek broad comment and feedback.
  • Revise the draft during November and December in the light of that feedback.
  • The DfE will publish the revised draft, along with the Programmes of Study for other subjects, for full public consultation in the Spring of 2013.

The working party included several school teachers, together with representation from Naace, CAS, ITTE, Vital, and NextGen Skills. The group’s membership appears below. It met for the first time on 19 September, and completed the draft by 22 October as required by DfE.

We are now at Step 2 of this process. The current draft should be regarded as a first step, not as a finished product. It has not received widespread scrutiny, and it is not endorsed by DfE. It is simply a concrete starting point for wider public debate.

via Draft ICT Programme of Study | BCS Academy of Computing.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Neil Brown  |  November 29, 2012 at 7:52 am

    This process is interesting, and I’ll say why from a fairly biased perspective. A few years ago, ICT was predominant in schools, and for age 11-16, there was no Computer Science. Some teachers have said that the ICT curriculum was so flexible that you could teach whatever you wanted (which seems to go against the aim of having a national curriculum, for better or worse). So some taught mainly Office, some taught programming, and various mixtures inbetween.

    ICT ended up getting a bad rap, and meanwhile CS has pushed itself back into the frame by getting GCSE qualifications (age 14-16). CS was promoted by arguing that it had academic rigour, and taught longstanding principles that did not change year to year (cf the ICT courses that focused on teaching Office). Meanwhile the government clearly decided a revamp was needed for ICT. Can/should it make similar arguments as to its academic value?

    So the question is: what now for ICT? Should it follow the Royal Society’s suggestion and focus on IT and/or digital literacy? Will it end up in a turf war with CS (e.g. some ICT teachers claim that programming is central to ICT)? Or will we see some sort of academic/vocational split between CS and ICT, where ICT reclaims some of the practical parts, and CS is pushed towards the theoretical end? Or will it be largely where it was before, and just accept a large overlap with CS as inevitable? (And in that case, do schools offer both CS and ICT, or just one?)


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