ICT education is particu8larly bad in secondary schools, according to an Ofsted report
The UK education watchdog Ofsted has warned that ICT teaching in schools in England and Wales is failing pupils.
It has published its finding in a report, ICT in Schools 2008-11, which assessed teaching in schools over the last three years.
Just one third of secondary schools were judged to be “good” or “outstanding”, while in 30 of the 74 schools assessed, many pupils reached the age of 16 without having the necessary skills to progress further in the subject. Indeed, in one fifth of these schools, Ofsted describes the teaching as “inadequate.”
This growing problem is highlighted by a dramatic decrease in the number of students taking ICT as a subject at GCSE level. In 2007, 81,800 students selected the subject compared to just 31,800 this year, a reduction of 64 percent. However the report did note that the number of vocational awards in ICT had increased.
“In a world that is becoming increasingly reliant on technology, young people need to be given the opportunity to learn ICT skills in an interesting, challenging and relevant way,” said Ofsted’s chief inspector Miriam Brown. “Schools should provide a range of ICT courses that are suitably matched to students’ needs, support them with their learning and prepare them for higher education and for skilled work in a technological age.”
In need of reform
A number of big names in the UK’s technology industry such as Microsoft, Sony and Google have voiced their concerns about the standards of ICT education in the country and have accused the government of turning the curriculum into one that was narrow and superficial.
Google chairman Eric Schmidt in particular has been a vocal critic of the British education system, claiming that it was failing to ignite young people’s passion for technology. He said that he was shocked to learn that computer science was not a compulsory subject at GCSE level and that more should be done to support these students at college.
The government appears to have accepted one or two of the criticisms, acknowledging that the current curriculum is insufficiently rigorous and in need of reform and in November, it promised to introduce more relevant IT skills into the classroom with its NextGen proposal.