Brits to scrap 'dull' school ICT program

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Brits to scrap 'dull' school ICT program

Excel courses get 'computer science' revamp.

Britain is set to overhaul its user-focused high school ICT curriculum in favour of a "computing science" program that emphasises building.

Education Secretary Michael Grove on Wednesday said the changes were needed to stem the decline in students going on to further education in IT, labeling the current curriculum "dull and demotivating".

Pending the results of a public consultation in the coming weeks, Groves will allow schools to individually replace the compulsory program with what he hopes will be more challenging subjects until a new curriculum is delivered in 2014.

"Imagine the dramatic change which could be possible in just a few years, once we remove the roadblock of the existing ICT curriculum," he said in a speech at the BETT tech show in London, Wednesday.

"Instead of children bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word and Excel by bored teachers, we could have 11 year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations using an MIT tool called Scratch.

"By 16, they could have an understanding of formal logic previously covered only in University courses and be writing their own Apps for smartphones."

Grove's speech echoed Google chairman Eric Schmidt's recent comment that he was "flabbergasted" Britain's ICT education system lacked computer science, while the British Computer Society in 2008 reported boredom with the curriculum was behind declining interest in tertiary level ICT studies.    

"Your IT curriculum focuses on teaching how to use software, but gives no insight into how it's made," Schmidt said in August last year.  

Groves said the Government would end Whitehall's micro-management of ICT programs but said IT will remain compulsory at each level of education.

"By withdrawing the Programme of Study, we’re giving schools and teachers freedom over what and how to teach; revolutionising ICT as we know it. 

"But no English school will be forced to follow it any more. From this September, all schools will be free to use the amazing resources that already exist on the web."

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