Government to scrap "harmful and dull" ICT classes

UPDATE: Computer science and programming to become part of curriculum; Gove's ministerial statement added

The UK government is expected to announce the scrapping of classes in school this September, to be replaced with computer science and programming lessons.

Michael Gove, secretary of state for education, will call current ICT lessons "lifeless and dull" and state that the new curriculum will enable young people to gains skills that will enable them to "work at the forefront of technological change," according to a report by the BBC.

"Imagine the dramatic change which could be possible in just a few years, once we remove the roadblock of the existing ICT curriculum," Gove will tell the BETT show for educational technology today in London.

"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."

The news will be gratefully received by the UK video game and creative industries, which are campaigning to bring programming back to the curriculum.

Eidos life president Ian Livingstone, who has been advising Gove and co-authored the Next Gen report highlighting the changes to be made to put the UK back at the centre of digital and technological innovation, added: "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."

Michael Gove's written ministerial statement is reprinted in full:

National Curriculum in England: Information and Communication Technology.

Secretary of State, Department for Education (Rt Hon Michael Gove MP)

I am today announcing my intention to launch a public consultation on my proposal that the National Curriculum Programmes of Study and associated Attainment Targets and assessment arrangements for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in maintained schools in England should not apply from September 2012.

There is a significant and growing base of evidence, not least from Ofsted inspections, that demonstrates that there are persistent problems with the quality and effectiveness of ICT education in schools. Evidence indicates that recent curriculum and qualifications reforms have not led to significant improvements in the teaching of ICT, and the number of students progressing to further study in ICT-related subjects is in decline. Furthermore, the ICT curriculum in its current form is viewed as dull and demotivating for pupils. Its teaching may not equip pupils adequately for further study and work, may leave them disenchanted or give rise to negative perceptions that turn them off the subject completely. At the same time we know that the demand for high-level technology skills is growing, and many employers in the IT industry are concerned that the way in which ICT is taught in schools is failing to inspire young people about the creative potential of ICT and the range of IT-related careers open to them.

I am encouraged by the work of†subject organisations and others†on how universities and business can develop high quality†Computer Science qualifications

However, we also know that ICT teaching in schools can be done well. There are numerous positive examples of schools that are leading the way in developing new and exciting visions for ICT, and of industry-led initiatives which are invigorating ICT teaching in schools. In order to facilitate more innovative ICT provision in schools, I am proposing to make provision under the 2002 Education Act to disapply the existing ICT Programmes of Study and Attainment Targets at all four key stages, and the associated statutory assessment arrangements at Key Stage 3, from September 2012.

Under this proposal ICT would remain a compulsory subject within the National Curriculum, subject to the outcomes of the National Curriculum review. However, schools would be freed of the requirement to adhere to the existing Programmes of Study, Attainment Targets and statutory assessment arrangements.

By disapplying the ICT Programme of Study from September this year schools will be able to offer a more creative and challenging curriculum, drawing on support and advice from those best positioned to judge what an ambitious and forward-looking curriculum should contain. I am encouraged by the work of†subject organisations and others†on how universities and business can develop high quality†Computer Science qualifications.†I'm keen to explore how Government can continue to facilitate this.

If, having listened to the views expressed in the public consultation and subject to the will of the House, I decide to proceed with the proposed disapplication of the ICT Programmes of Study, Attainment Targets and assessment arrangements, it will represent an interim measure that will be effective from September 2012 until September 2014, when the outcomes of the National Curriculum review will come into force.†The status of ICT within the school curriculum is currently being considered by the National Curriculum review alongside that of all other National Curriculum subjects (aside from English, mathematics, science and PE), and I will bring forward proposals later this year.

The public consultation on this proposal will commence shortly and run for 12 weeks. A consultation document containing full details of this proposal and how interested parties can respond to the consultation will be published on the Department for Education website. Copies of that document will also be placed in the House Libraries.

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Latest comments (21)

Tameem Antoniades Creative Director & Co-founder, Ninja Theory Ltd6 years ago
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters6 years ago
Finally. I just wish they'd done that when I was at school.
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Harrison Smith Studying Games and Graphics Programming, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology6 years ago
Great news, hopefully this has a flow on effect and Australia gets rid of its own ICT classes which are the same boring ms word and excel classes and instead teach java and c. I hated the fact that I spent my first year of Uni learning java and C when I could of easily learnt both over my secondary school years.
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Show all comments (21)
Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 6 years ago
Now bring back Grammar schools!
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Antony Cain Lecturer in Computer Games Design, Sunderland College6 years ago
Best story in a long while :)
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Andrew Wafer CEO, Pixel Toys6 years ago
Whilst this is great news for the future of the technical and creative industries, and Iím thrilled itís going in the curriculum, Iím surprised by the way Grove will phrase it. Does no one else think spreadsheets and wordprocessors are important?
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Antony Cain Lecturer in Computer Games Design, Sunderland College6 years ago
Sure they are - but they're important in the same way that being able to use a pen is important. They don't really warrant a full subject in their own right but should be integrated into lots of other subjects.
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Henry Durrant Programmer, SUMO Digital6 years ago
Good news, Word notes should be handed out in English, Excel should be taught in Maths, Computing should be about computers.
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Kids would understand a spreadsheet and MS word like a duck to water with basic email facilities which were not apparent in our generation. Although using a excel spreadsheet to do basic accounting would be a far improvement in keeping basic account than the book ledgers we were forced to layout by hand and rule
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Waqar Ali Studying Games Design and Production Management, University of Abertay Dundee6 years ago
Now we just need to see if they actually deliver or if the government is busy blowing it's money on vanity projects. And let's hope this isn't just an excuse to have the private sector get involved, since that's worked brilliantly everywhere else, hasn't it? -_-.

Whilst if this all actually happened, that'd be great, I hated my IT classes and from what my younger siblings who're still in secondary school tell me, it's still basically the same old 'messing about with Access/Word/Excel', and my first thought was 'damn, I wish they'd had that when I was at school...'. There's a massive skills vaccum amougst young people today and they're having to learn things themselves that by all rights, the education system we all pay our taxes for should be teaching them stuff.
But Gove is a politician and worse, a Tory. Wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him. And being an overweight computerish type, I doubt I could throw him very far.
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 6 years ago
[copy and paste of a comment I made elsewhere]

The problem with subjects like GCSE ICT is that it's next to useless for generations like mine back in school and must be even more so now. Boring is one thing but it wouldn't be such a huge issue but it would be alright if it was useful.

Everything you learn in lessons is basically everything kids have already figured out at home on their computers. I took up ICT back then thinking I'm going to understand more about computers, wasn't anything like that at all. How many Word Documents or Clipart posters in Publishers did we used to make? Man those were the days.
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One obviously needs a new show (revived for the modern day) like Whiz kids
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Fingers crossed this goes beyond government talk and actually happens
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The only sure things are death, taxes and politics (nice soundbites, years of relegation/thumb fiddling, fudging, and mindless whitehall bureaucracy, and multiple relaunches armed with rhetoric, heckling, and waste of taxpayers money for the political elite)
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Jamie Read 3D Artist, Neon Play Ltd6 years ago
That's good news. Obviously it's vital to learn the basics of using word precessing, spreadsheets etc at school, but most of what they do teach is really pointless.
Also, the guys face on the homepage for this link looks like a mix of Jeremy Kyle and Mr Bean. Just saying :)
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Dave Hawes Project Manager coding, Eutechnyx6 years ago
The actual statement does not seem to chime with the story though, the statement is just saying that ICT will no longer be subject to current limitations on what aught to be taught and how it is assessed. Which means what get's taught will be decided by the schools. That in no way enforces them to teach programming or computer science in ICT lessons. Likely many will, but others may dumb it down even further in order to hit targets or take even more radical action. This only further promotes the Tory ideal of not having a central standard for our education that must be upheld by all institutions.
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Josef Brett Animator 6 years ago
I went to school at the wrong time. I wish a had this when I were a lad!
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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 6 years ago
Why would they do this?

Apple: Receptive to the humanities and the liberal arts.

RIM: Extreme engineer and computer science culture.

Apple is killing RIM.


Not a tech focus. A broad, well-rounded focus.

Too much tech focus is not good.
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Great, now fix the rest of the education system.

It's too late for me but if the problems are still there when I have kids I'm going to home school them
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John Welsh Program Manager Defence/Serious Games SME, Sydac6 years ago
Who will teach it?
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Hector Remy Programmer 5 years ago
Games made by pure coders are dull. Requires more than that to make a videogame.
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