11/01/2012 05:53 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Dull ICT Lessons To Be Scrapped And Children Taught How To Develop Apps

ICT lessons PA

"Harmful and dull" ICT studies in schools are to be scrapped and replaced with "dramatic" and exciting lessons about computer skills to better engage "bored" pupils and equip them for the 21st Century.

Education Secretary Michael Gove will announce that the current programme of information and communications technology study in England will end in September.

It will be replaced by what is called an "open source" curriculum in computer science and programming designed with the help of universities and industry.

Mr Gove will say that the changes will create young people who are "able to work at the forefront of technological change".

And he will brand the current ICT curriculum "harmful and dull".

Mr Gove will be speaking at the BETT show for educational technology in London, and according to the BBC, will say that resources, developed by experts, are already available online to help schools teach computer science and he wants universities and businesses to devise new courses and exams, particularly a new computing GCSE.

He fears that the inadequate grounding in computing offered by the current curriculum is in danger of damaging Britain's economic prospects.

"Imagine the dramatic change which could be possible in just a few years, once we remove the roadblock of the existing ICT curriculum," he will say.

"Instead of children bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word or Excel by bored teachers, we could have 11-year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations."

Computer games entrepreneur Ian Livingstone, an adviser to Mr Gove, envisages a new curriculum that could have 16-year-olds creating their own apps for smartphones and 18-year-olds able to write their own simple programming language.

Mr Livingstone, co-author of last year's Next Gen report which highlighted the poor quality of computer teaching in schools, told BBC news: "The current lessons are essentially irrelevant to today's generation of children who can learn PowerPoint in a week.

"It's a travesty given our heritage as the most creative nation in the world.


Children are being forced to learn how to use applications, rather than to make them. They are becoming slaves to the user interface and are totally bored by it," he said.


But other experts voiced concerns about a shortage of teachers qualified to deliver the new curriculum.

Bill Mitchell, of British Computing Society, said: "It is tremendous that Michael Gove is personally endorsing the importance of teaching computer science in schools.

"There are, of course, significant challenges to overcome, specifically with the immediate shortage of computer science teachers."

Prof Steve Furber, chairman of an imminent Royal Society report on computing in schools, said non-specialist teachers might find the plethora of alternative teaching resources confusing.

"We look forward to hearing more about how the government intends to support non-specialist teachers who make up the majority of the workforce in delivering an excellent ICT education without official guidance on lesson content," he said.

What do you think? About time children who are already ICT savvy have more interesting and useful lessons?