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BETT Review

challenging, and based on real-world application. The intention is to create a qualification that students find stimulating, and that is at the same time highly regarded by universities and employers. The enthusiasm and commitment of employers, combined with the innovative real- world resources they are contributing, will help reverse the dramatic decline in the number of young people studying IT and considering careers in the sector.

BETT 2012 - The future Shake up of ICT curriculum welcomed as exhibitors

demonstrate new opportunities in technology M

ichael Gove opened the BETT show to announce a major shake-up of the ICT curriculum. With too many children being taught how to use software rather than make it, a new Computing Curriculum was said to be the way forward, with plans for a new computing GCSE already in the pipeline.

Intellect, the trade body for the UK’s ICT industry, welcomed Michael Gove’s announcement that ICT lessons are to be scrapped and replaced with computer science and programming.

Intellect had recommended this course of action last year when it responded to the Department for Education review of the national curriculum.

Richard Hadfield, chair of Intellect’s education group said: “We are pleased that Michael Gove has agreed with our recommendation to scrap the current dull and uninspiring ICT lessons and replace them with lessons which will engage, excite and inspire pupils. Equipping pupils with real programming and computer science skills is vital to ensuring the future of the UK ICT sector and our whole economy.”

E-skills UK, the Sector Skills Council for Business and IT, believes the announcement is a vital and historic step towards creating a new approach to teaching IT in schools.

Karen Price OBE, CEO of e-skills UK said: “The door is now wide open to create a new and relevant curriculum that will inspire students and ensure that the UK can retain its position at the forefront of technology.

IT drives productivity in every sector and is the engine for growth across the whole economy. That is why we are working with leading employers through our Behind the Screen project to create a new GCSE in IT.”

A new methodology

The Minister acknowledges e-skills UK’s Behind the Screen project, which is already underway to create a new IT GCSE and delivery methodology. Behind the Screen is a unique partnership between business and education, with employers, schools, universities and awarding bodies working with e-skills UK. The current pilot in 20 schools will help determine three critical aspects of the new GCSE. First, the right balance of skills and knowledge; ensuring coding and computational principles, software development and logic skills are combined with creativity, design and teamwork. Secondly, that a robust and rigorous assessment process is in place. And finally, that resources to help teachers deliver the new qualification, and students achieve it, are comprehensive, inspiring,


IBM is one of the group of leading employers working with e-skills UK on Behind the Screen. Stephen Leonard, Chief Executive IBM UK and Ireland, said: “We are long overdue a completely new approach to teaching IT as a subject. With our work, we will make IT inspiring to young people and put the UK on the world stage in educating the technologists of the future. “We are putting the weight of industry behind a transformation in education, working with schools and universities to create courses of academic substance and industry relevance.” Other employers participating in Behind the Screen include Blitz Games, BT, Cisco, Microsoft, John Lewis Partnership, the BBC, SAS, Capgemini, Deloitte, Google, A1-Technologies, Storythings, BAFTA, Interactive Opportunities, Accenture, DXW, The Open Rights Group, Nokia and Autonomy.

Students to maximise their potential

Also commenting on the announcement, Phil Smith CEO Cisco UK and Ireland said: “I welcome the move from Michael Gove regarding the need to rethink the way that ICT is taught in schools in Britain. Young people today have a relationship with technology and an affinity for computers and IT which is unique and vastly different to any other generation. It is essential to the future of the British economy that we address the shortcomings in ICT education and help school children and students to maximise their potential – failure to do this will result in a detrimental skills shortage for IT in the very near future.” The Forum of Private Business has welcomed the Education Secretary’s plans to overhaul the way IT is taught in classrooms. The not-for-profit business support group has said its own member research shows employers are keen for education providers to teach youngsters the right skills demanded in the workplace, and has applauded the Government’s intervention as a step in the right direction.

“This is exactly the kind of change to the education curriculum that our members tell us they want to see,” said the Forum’s Chief Executive, Phil Orford.

“A targeted approach to what secondary school pupils learn in the classroom with an eye

February 2012

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