The current programme of ICT in UK schools will be scrapped by September, education secretary Michael Gove is to announce later today.
Gove will explain in a speech that ICT is to be replaced by a mixed "open source" curriculum of computer science and programming, in a move that lobbyists for the Next Gen campaign have described as a “quantum shift in thinking”.
Speaking at the BETT show for educational technology in London, Gove will declare that the changes will help young people "work at the forefront of technological change".
The Conservative minister will warn that the current computing programme could hinder Britain’s future economic prospects.
"Imagine the dramatic change which could be possible in just a few years, once we remove the roadblock of the existing ICT curriculum. 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," he will say.
Next Gen triumph
A skills review, published eleven months ago, made twenty recommendations to remedy the so-called ‘digital skills gap’ affecting UK games development studios.
Many in the games industry are concerned that young British students are not being taught enough of the right skills for the new digital age of jobs.
In its delayed response to the review, issued in December, the Government pledged to work towards developing “an attractive computer science offering for schools”.
Games industry figurehead Ian Livingstone, who co-authored the skills review, said “it is fantastic that Michael Gove is personally endorsing the importance of teaching computer science in schools.”
He told Develop: “This is a quantum shift in thinking that will be of great benefit to the country. I’m amazed and delighted that change is happening so quickly.
“The problem with ICT is that children are bored to death by it. It’s largely office skills and the UK’s inadequate proxy for computer science. Children don’t need to spend a year learning Powerpoint!
“It’s absolutely worthless for anyone trying to build a career in the digital industries. It’s teaching children how to use applications, not how to make them. What is needed, and has been recognised today by Michael Gove, is the need for a rigorous and relevant Computer Science curriculum whereby at the age of 11 children should be able to write a small computer animation with tools such as Scratch an open source code from MIT.
"By the age of 16 they should be able to write a programme that creates something like a Sudoku puzzle or a mobile app. By 18 they should be able to write their own programming language.
“We are probably the most creative nation in the world. Faced with a world in which they will be surrounded by computers and the opportunities they create, Britain’s schoolchildren deserve the chance to study computer science to give them the skills to create the next Google, Twitter, Facebook or Zynga.”