Monday, 24 September 2012

Government hands ICT curriculum over to industry

The Department for Education has handed over responsibility for the draft ICT Programme of Study for the new ICT curriculum to the British Computer Society (BCS) and the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng).
These two organisations will lead on the development of curriculum work for all pupils in key stages 1 to 4 – and they are giving selected, invited stakeholders just one week to respond to its draft programme. The schools community is not included.
On September 18 the DfE signed a memorandum of understanding with BCS and RAEng stating: "It is essential that the Programme of Study is developed in association with and has 'buy-in' from key stakeholders across the sector." They will have to move quickly. The draft programme has to be submitted to the DfE by the October 23. The 'official' version will be published early in 2013 for public consultation.
More information can be found on the EdFutures wiki. The wiki also reveals that the collection of organisations behind the drive for curriculum change – the BCS, RAEng, Naace (advisers and consultants), ITTE (teacher educators), CAS (Computers and Schools), NextGen (industry) and Vital (teacher educators) – have found a very high level of consensus. (Apparently the group also includes three secondary computer science teachers, two university computer science academics and three teacher educators, two of them primary.)

'Digital literacy' an early casualty

It seems the notion of "digital literacy" has been an early casualty. This is how the wiki contributor describes the development: "To my great surprise we made significant progress in reaching a shared (I think unanimously) view about the key high level areas that needed to be included.
"Fundamental to achieving this was moving away from using some of the terminology that has caused so much confusion and disagreement in the discussions of the ICT curriculum over the last few years (eg digital literacy). Instead we went for a three strand approach: Fundamentals; Application; Implications.
"We then proceeded to debate our views on the purposes and aims of ICT. The importance of ICT being inspiring and creative was emphasised, as was the critical need for the impact of ICT on all disciplines to be recognised and thus built into the PoS for all the other subjects. We talked in quite a lot of detail about the specific 'elements' that should be taught at KS1 and KS2 – and again there was a high level of agreement.
"We spent a little less time on KS3 due to the pragmatics (people needed to leave!). There was some concern expressed about there being a PoS at KS4 – some members of the group felt very strongly that the ICT PoS shouldn't cover KS4 because of the realities of how that might work given that the main drivers at KS4 are the national exams (currently GCSEs)."
The group now has its work cut out to get its draft programme ready to share with selected stakeholders by October 1. Respondents will get just a week (until 12 noon on October 9) to make their views known (they are advised "block time in your diary"). Of course there will be the opportunity for responses to the DfE publication consultation but the wiki makes it clear that the important moment to wield influence is right now. That opportunity is not extended to schools and teachers.

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