11/01/2012 04:35 GMT | Updated 11/01/2012 11:30 GMT

School ICT Lessons To Be Scrapped, Says Michael Gove

Technology classes are "a mess" and will be cut due to pupils being "bored out of their minds", education secretary Michael Gove said on Wednesday.

Gove announced an overhaul of England's Information and Communications Technology (ICT) curriculum as it is "failing" to prepare young people for the future. The lessons must be radically revamped as teachers and industry leaders describe the current syllabus as "off-putting, demotivating and dull", he added.

In a speech to the education and technology conference, hosted by BETT, Gove confirmed from September schools can decide what to teach.

The subject will still remain compulsory in both primary and secondary schools, although this may change after the government's national curriculum review.

"Imagine the dramatic change which could be possible in just a few years, once we remove the roadblock of the existing ICT curriculum," Gove said in his speech at the three-day conference in central London.

"Instead of children bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word and Excel by bored teachers, we could have 11-year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations. By 16, they could have an understanding of formal logic previously covered only in university courses and be writing their own apps for smart phones."

Under the proposed changes, schools will be free to use lessons and resources that have been developed by experts, the Department for Education confirmed.

As examples it cited the British Computing Society and Computing at School which have created a curriculum for secondary schools with support from Microsoft, Google and Cambridge University.

Another organisation, e-Skills UK has been working with employers to develop an ICT curriculum which focuses on the science and technology behind computing.

Stephen Twigg, Labour’s shadow education secretary, seconded the proposals, saying it was "right to identify that the ICT curriculum needs to be reformed to fit with the times".

“Ofsted found that in two thirds of secondary schools, ICT teaching is only satisfactory or poor. As well as updating programmes of study, we need better teacher training, higher standards and continual assessment of what pupils are being taught," he added.

The existing curriculum will remain on the internet for schools to use as a reference, but they will not be forced to follow it.

In October, the Huffington Post UK reported a new three-dimensional project set to revolutionise the classroom and pave the way for technology in schools. When using the 3D technology in lessons, the pupils showed a huge improvement in their learning performance, demonstrating the importance of including modern-day technology in the classroom.

Gove suggested it is time to revive the legacy of Alan Turing, an English mathematician who was a pioneer of computer science.

"We in Britain should never forget that one of our great heroes, Alan Turing, laid the foundation stones on which all modern computing rests," he continued.

"His pioneering work on theoretical computation in the 1930s laid the way for himself and others to create the computer industry as we know it."

Gove added: "Our school system has not prepared children for this new world. Millions have left school over the past decade without even the basics they need for a decent job.

"And the current curriculum cannot prepare British students to work at the very forefront of technological change."

Ian Fordham, co-founder of think-tank The Education Foundation said the proposal was a "welcome and refreshing announcement about the future of computer science in our schools and for us as a nation".

"The way that the new curriculum will actually be developed plays to all the strengths that we will have to harness. Co-operation and imagination will be key.

"This is new style curriculum development for a new era," he added.

The think-tank, who are holding a conference on Thursday to discuss the future of technology in education, have a recently built "Learning Lab" to work with schools and industry partners, which it hopes will make the discussions "a reality".

Fordham added: "This curriculum reform needs to be aligned with the skills gap and the potential of technology to support a radical change in the way teaching and learning is delivered.”