UKIE calls for computer science in National Curriculum

Government submission attempts to take pupils out of "quasi-vocational educational ghetto"

Trade body UKIE has called for the British government to include computer science as part of the National Curriculum, arguing that it is vital to the growth of the country's high tech industries - including gaming.

The National Curriculum is currently ongoing a general review, with UKIE today making its own submission arguing that computer science be taught as a standalone subject available to all children from GCSE age onwards.

The current ICT curriculum focuses purely on using existing software packages and does not touch upon software creation or any programming skills.

The submission references the recent Livingstone Hope review, which called for sweeping changes to the way computing subjects are taught in schools. UKIE argues that the current skills gap is a threat to the video games industry and any business which uses computer technology at its core.

"Our children are surrounded by computers at school, in the playground and at home. You would be forgiven for thinking that computers are the one thing that no modern pupil is missing out on," said UKIE board member and Eidos Interactive life president Ian Livingstone.

"But you couldn't be more wrong. In fact, the narrowness of how we teach children about computers risks creating a generation of digital illiterates, and starving some of the UK's most successful industries of the talent they need to thrive," he argued.

"Putting computer science in the National Curriculum will have a powerful effect: it will end the isolation of computers - the defining technological force of the new century - in a strange quasi-vocational educational ghetto, and instead will prepare our pupils for some of the UK's most successful growth industries, especially the digital and creative industries," he added.

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Latest comments (12)

Paul Smith Dev 6 years ago
There's enough talent in this country we just need people to hire them - in this country.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 14th April 2011 11:45am

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Adam Campbell Studying Games Technology, City University London6 years ago
I agree. ICT is becoming more and more irrelevant given so many people are born into digital life. Computer Science would be far more beneficial.
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Kim Blake Senior Events & Education Co-ordinator, Blitz Games Studios6 years ago
Couldn't agree more! Teaching Computer Science at schools would go a long way to solving the skills problems and not only for the games industry.
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Show all comments (12)
Keldon Alleyne Strategic keyboard basher, Avasopht Ltd6 years ago
As much as I would like to see Computer Science introduced at a much earlier age, do bear in mind what the World's biggest industries are. And of the World's most profitable companies, Microsoft ranks at just number 8.

I wouldn't even bother looking at the profit or revenue per employee, because the size of the industry is crucial to making such decisions.

That being said, Computer Science skills can be very transferable - but are the tech industries really the best angle to sell this idea with?
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Michael Abraham game designer 6 years ago
@ keldon:

I think that you're missing the point there. it's not just about what is and is not the most profitable ventures.
(Although I'd also point out that none of those companies would be where they are without significant numbers of talented individuals with computing backgrounds)

The point is more that:
A: with computers becoming so commonplace in our lives and the lives of the younger generations, it's almost a sin that the average level of understanding is so low as to what and how computers do what they do.
B: ICT as it is today is a bit of a joke when you consider that most english homework essays will be word processed and many will use a spreadsheet when it comes to making their revision timetables anyway.
When I did ICT back in GCSE we actually had to develop a database using Visual Basic - which whilst not all that amazing, at least it starts to give the basics behind software creation. Simply giving a better understanding to students of basic things like logic statements, loops and similar would also be helpful in general as it helps to encourage analytical thinking, which sometimes feels like a lost art to me amongst the younger generations.

Besides, it'd be nice if universities would be able to assume students have a basic understanding of simple logic statements when they arrive (I was recently witness to a computing MSc where it took 4 weeks to cover the concepts of basic data types before logic statements were even covered... 4 weeks).

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Michael Abraham on 14th April 2011 4:18pm

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Adam Ross6 years ago
I must admit, looking back retrospectively. Learning about Computer Science in school would have been more beneficial to me than learning generic ICT.
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Feargus Carroll Producer 6 years ago
@ Michael
'A sin'? Got to disagree. Everyone today drives a car, but that doesn't mean we should be teaching motor mechanics at GCSE. I have three teenage children who use computers and software as a part of every subject they study. Word for essays, Excel for graphs, Powerpoint for class presentations. They learn to use them as tools, just as I learned how to use a protracter. They also do an ICT-style course that teaches the basics of Photoshop, Premiere and so on.
Knowing what goes on inside the box is not neccessary to most computer users, other than software engineers. And I'm not sure the UK or anywhere else is short of those.
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James Johnstone6 years ago
As someone leaving collage this year, i took computer science for 1 ever not having it available at GCSE ruined it alot for me, i struggeled really bad and the ICT curriculem at my school was terrible! I know have to go on and do a foundation degree course in either interactive media development or game design, without any ammount of good computer science knowledge and very very limited programming skills....hell my school tried teaching me pascal....PASCAL! as any programmer on here knows that language is dead...

So yeah, the need to make computer science compulsary...the world is drasticaly changing. Computers are so important these days, Highschool kids need to have atleast the option to do it at GCSE level rarther than just learning Power Point or Excel in and ICT course
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Ryan Cowan Studying Computer Games Technology, University of Abertay Dundee6 years ago
Even I noticed a problem with this 10 years ago when i left school to go college, did all this ICT stuff in school then left for college to go do a Software Development HND and it still had alot of classes on all of the Office programs. It did suit some of the older students though but it really should have been part of an introductary course.

There was nothing wrong with pascal for me as it was my 1st real step into programming in college because in school they pretty much just told you what to write for visual basic, not how to actually do it.
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Darren Barnett Production Consultant 6 years ago
Itís worth noting that this year the Coalition have removed the teacher training bursaries for ICT from September entirely, so from being a shortage subject last year alongside maths, modern foreign languages and science there is now no additional incentive for new teachers in ICT.

I donít think this is the start of a revision of the courses into computer science but is instead part of the Coalitions general attack on vocational courses where they would much prefer that Latin was studied as it was in the public schools the government all went to rather than anything less traditionally academic.

I would assume that it is very unlikely that there will be any new incentives or funding for IT at secondary schools when the English baccalaureate which is a cornerstone of the Coalitions educational policy actively discourages vocational subjects.

Whilst I would agree that there was scope for revising the ICT syllabus and also more room for some kind of programming elements the government have instead quietly taken an axe to future IT tuition in secondary schools.
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Ella Romanos CEO, Remode6 years ago
@Feargus Surely driving a car is slightly different to using a computer? We don't use cars for everything we do in our personal and work lives. The amount of people I know who can't even sort out basic issues with their computers and waste hours of time and a lot of money on getting something sorted out which should only take 10 minutes!

@Darren I actually did baccalaureate and whilst it does focus on academic subjects a lot, they also have a big focus on vocational and extra-curricular activities, much more so than A levels! From comparing with friends who did A levels, I would say that baccalaureate arguably provides a more rounded education.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ella Romanos on 15th April 2011 2:50pm

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Darren Barnett Production Consultant 6 years ago
@Ella I believe the English baccalaureate is much more narrowly focussed than any corresponding European ones - I've certainly seen a number of articles suggesting that the government here is not taking the more comprehensive approach that has been adopted in the rest of Europe - the E Bacc is also at GCSE level rather than A level here.
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