ICT in Education

Archive for February 11th, 2013

National Curriculum Update – Consultation draft of the new PoS published

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Welcome to the curriculum of a minor prep school circa 1955, one run largely by wizened teachers trained around 1913! Now, if, like me, you were teaching when the original National Curriculum was introduced in 1988 – prescriptive, overloaded but at least teachable with subtle modification then you might be forgiven if you would like it back, for compared to the current proposals it was quite enlightened and progressive.

I’ll come to the ICT (sorry Computing) PoS shortly but if you want to see a real horror story look at History and Geography first. The Geography is bad enough – a return to capes, bays and regions (though we can’t colour the Empire pink these days) with no attempt to teach a sense of place, man-land relationships or indeed any understanding of the physical and human world. As for History – well, Early Britons to The Glorious Revolution via every monarch and political event over 2000 years – and all in KS2 (hmm – 21 hours a year to cover all this – I defy anyone to manage it)

ICT (to be renamed Computing)

These proposals were created by the British Computer Society and Royal Academy of Engineering, in secret. They were forbidden from consulting with any education or teaching groups resulting in a PoS potentially unteachable in most primary and many secondary schools without very significant staff training and which totally fails to provide learners with the broad and balance knowledge of ICT that they need to function in the modern world.

Viewed at one level the greater emphasis on programming is a good thing – but then use of BeeBots, Logo and control technology has always been in the primary curriculum, though perhaps not always taught well, if at all. What is fundamentally wrong is that the main emphasis is now computational thinking – algorithms, coding and systems with very little about using ICT creatively or in contexts familiar to the learner.

The key issue is that these proposals are over heavy on programming/coding, the stated aims being:

“The National Curriculum for computing aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • can understand and apply the fundamental principles of computer science, including logic, algorithms, data representation, and communication
  • can analyse problems in computational terms, and have repeated practical experience of writing computer programs in order to solve such problems
  • can evaluate and apply information technology, including new or unfamiliar technologies, analytically to solve problems
  • are responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology.”

Now read it again – only the last bullet point covers all the other aspects of ICT – communication tools, video, animation, data handling etc. The things that make ICT exciting and enable learners to develop the skills they will actually need and use in the real world. That is not to say that exploring Logo, Scratch or Makey Makey cannot be fun – well taught it is, but the idea that at KS1 children need to know what an algorithm is and how they are implemented in programmes on digital devices can only have been dreamt up by geeks with no understanding of young learners whatsoever. It gets no better at KS2 and but KS3 the whole PoS could be taught as a classroom based theory course with little practical work at all.

This is NOT ICT, it is a watered down Computing GCE from the 1970’s. If you have not done so go to and download the whole thing. You have three months to comment as part of the supposed ‘consultation’ before the whole horror is inflicted, presumably without funding for resources or training in 2014.

Of course, to avoid having this ancient view of the world inflicted on you then you do have a choice – academies can ignore it completely since it will only apply to local authority schools. Conspiracy theories and hidden agendas anyone?



Written by Paul Heinrich

February 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized