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Vaizey: Gove's plans will help "transform education"

UPDATE: Culture Minister praises "terrific work" of Livingstone and Hope; UKIE, Braben also respond

Ed Vaizey has said plans to replace ICT with computer science in UK schools will "help transform education and nurture the next generation of hi-tech entrepreneurs."

The Culture Minister, who has played a pivotal role in raising the issue within Government, told this afternoon: "There's no doubt that our lives are increasingly digital so it seems obvious to me that we should help children get an understanding of computer coding. Computer skills will be as important as grammar in navigating 21st century communications."

Vaizey also praised the efforts of Ian Livingstone and Alex Hope, co-authors of the Next Gen report into skills commissioned by his Government department.

"[They've done] terrific work and have set out a clear path for Government and industry," he said, adding: "Michael Gove is completely behind this."

In the wake of the report, published in February 2011, Livingstone spearheaded the Next Gen Skills campaign, bringing on board tech giants including Google and Microsoft, ultimately advising Gove directly on the content's of today's speech.

In the speech, given at the BETT education event in London this morning, Gove announced plans to scrap ICT in its current form, freeing up schools to focus on a more programming-oriented curriculum that will be implemented later this year.

Gove's statement coincided neatly with news that Raspberry Pi, the £20 computer for schools, had gone into production. David Braben, Frontier boss and head of the Raspberry Pi foundation, told " "It is fantastic that the DfE have really engaged with the issue, and, yes, a delightful coincidence!"

UPDATE: UKIE has also responded to Gove's speech today, stating that it is keen to tackle changes to the National Curriculum going forward.

"We were pleased to see Mr Gove specifically acknowledge the games industry and noting that the computer science skills shortage is a barrier to growth for our sector," said Jo Twist, chief exec.

"The games industry wants to see a modern, relevant syllabus, and we will work across industry to ensure that we meet Michael Gove's challenge to incorporate a rigorous computer science option in the EBACC. We are also keen to explore how computer science, the sciences and art can work together as a suite of qualifications for a new generation of programmers and developers.

"There remains much to be done though, and we look forward to continuing to ensure that the UK's education system feeds the interactive entertainment industry with the skilled workforce that it needs."

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Johnny Minkley: Johnny Minkley is a veteran games writer and broadcaster, former editor of Eurogamer TV, VP of gaming charity SpecialEffect, and hopeless social media addict.
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