back to article Kids should be making software, not just using it - Gove

Education Secretary Michael Gove today proposed killing off Blighty's ICT curriculum in September to give it a thorough reboot. Launching a consultation into his plans, Gove suggested that from the start of the next academic year, schools should be able to teach what they want in computer classes. The Tory minister recommended …

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  1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    revolutionizing IT as we know it

    It has occurred to me many times that if education could be accomplished by mission statements, the US would put Finland, Singapore, etc. to shame. I'm glad to see that that the UK is keeping up with us in this department.
  2. Tom 38 Silver badge

    Teach python

    It's simple and can cover simple imperative programming for the kids all the way up to OOP/Functional styles for the teenagers. Programming isn't hard, but we just fail to teach it.
    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge
      Randall Munroe would say Perl: http://xkcd.com/519/
    2. So0bahth
      Yep, Tom is absolutely correct. Too many mediocre programmers think that they've got super powers which ordinary mortals lack. Nonsense. Practically anyone but the educationally subnormal can program. Sure, they won't all be great programmers. But there are plenty of arts graduates who could do as well as the 95% of programmers who aren't extraordinarily gifted.
      1. Vic

        > Practically anyone but the educationally subnormal can program.

        I don't think I agree with that.

        Practically anyone can write something that executes. But to catch all the corner-cases requires an attention to detail that I find largely lacking in most people I meet.

        The practical upshot of all this is that practically anyone can write crap, but it takes a really *pedantic* class of coder to write something defensive...

        Vic.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Teach Python

      Any idiot can write anything in a any language. Teach problem solving
      1. Windrose

        Teach theory.

        "Any idiot can write anything in a any language." - as someone who from time to time hire programmers, I have to agree. My problem, as an employer, is to find someone who ISN'T an idiot. Doesn't help if you teach them bad habits early.
      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Any idiot can write anything in a any language."

        Evidently, you don't even rate as well as an idiot then. Also, I've seen most of the CS students in a upper division college course struggle with the concept of a foreach statement to believe that.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I'll admint my error, which I realised immediately after submitting my comment, was to forget that some people can only read things literally and overlook the gist of a comment. The latter seems to be a common trait of many programmers and indeed commentards.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      but who will teach IT?

      Last year, England and Wales enrolled 28500 newly qualified teachers. Out of those, only 750 had included an ICT module in their post graduate studies. But only 3 - yes, you read that right *three*, had a degree in IT. I wholeheartedly agree that we need to teach programming and more detailed aspects of IT, but we also need the qualified staff to do so.
      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Who needs a CS degree?

        I guarantee that most of the IT guys from my generation the BBC B/Master era were not taught by CS grads we were taught by people with something far more important enthusiasm and passion.

        My GCSE teacher raised the funds for his computer lab almost single handedly and was a great teacher.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Qualifications to teach

          Gordon10:Would you entrust the teaching of maths to somebody who has no qualification in the subject above A-Level?

          I really want this to work, but I firmly believe we need to invest in both the kids *and* the teachers to make it happen effectively.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re Qualifications to teach

            Down-voted for wanting to invest in the teachers as well?

            That speaks volumes about why we let the teaching of IT related skills slip over the last two decades.

            1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

              Re: Qualifications to teach

              I'm one of the downvoters. In principle, I agree with what you are saying (i.e. put some money into producing the teachers.). However, I don't think we *need* a maths graduate to teach maths to sub-degree classes, history graduate to teach history to sub-degree classes, nor IT graduates to teach IT to sub-degree classes. What we need is excellent teachers with moderate specialisations. "Teaching" should be, in general, a graduate subject in itself, not a bolt-on for people who wanted to something else, but couldn't find a job and so drifted into teaching as a way to pay the bills. (However, of course, there should be a way for people with other skills to become teachers if they wish).

              What I am saying is that a good teacher of any given basic subject does not need to have an in-depth knowledge of it. For instance, I remember being taught the same subject by (first) a very good teacher of maths, for whom the subject was not her speciality, but which she taught excellently, bringing me up to the standard where I was transferred from the CSE group to the O-level group - an achievement for both of us. However, the new group was taught by a mathematically very good recent maths graduate, but with no teaching skills at all. I did get an O-level, but only just, and only by going to the first teacher for help.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Final thought on qualifications

                Having got to the O-level class, the reason why you then under-performed was because your teacher was fundamentally poor rather than his or her maths qualification.

                I work in education. Teaching is a different skill than being able to code, or research history, or work in engineering. We absolutely need professional teachers and for the most part have them, but we can't expect the highest quality, detailed education, especially beyond O-level from teachers who are not specialists in their field. The best outcome is achieved by those who have a detailed knowledge & understand their subject matter and at the same time can teach effectively - quite a challenge, but one we must rise to if we want the best for our young people.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Programming is hard for those who don't have the aptitude

      ...like music is, or acting.

      The last thing we need is more bad programmers.

      And python isn't that simple: I've seen java people seriously struggle with it.

  3. John G Imrie

    This is a great idea

    and should be expanded to cover other subjects such as History, English and Geography. No more having to learn the names of British Kings and Queens, no more learning the Capital Cities of the world. And especillly not grammer and speling to lern.
    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward yeah becouse powerpoint and excel use is something most kids don't pick up in those other classes anyway... o wait Knowing an ICT teacher who says that basically it's crap and a waste of time and doesn't teach anything that students don't learn in other lessons and having done ICT towards the end of the 90s and having had a brother who did it into the 00's and friends that only recently left college I can say it's moved on little from an abject waste of time, I remember it focusing on speed typing and me and the other kids basically used it as an opportunity to do nothing. Often the work in an ICT lesson was "write up your home work from another lesson." I didn't even bother going for it as a gcse subject.
      1. Ross 7
        "yeah becouse powerpoint and excel use is something most kids don't pick up in those other classes anyway" Bang on the money. Teaching kids how to use MS Office ain't IT, and it's not even useful. They pick it up elsewhere. The problem at the moment (and for the foreseeable future) is that it's impossible to get any experience of programming unless you do it yourself. That means learning from the interwebs or a family member. That then means that you either won't have any interest in a computer science course at uni because you've never been exposed to it before, or you do, but you learnt everything you know from the interwebs so you've got some un-learning to do at uni. Either way, we're making it hard to produce top notch comp sci's.
        1. Giles Jones Gold badge
          Using Office is what I would call basic IT or office working skills. But there are other subjects that only really teach you about things, they don't really let you create. You aren't allowed to mix up or experiment in science, you aren't allowed to invent your own games in PE and you don't invent your own religion in RE. But computing subjects would be better off aligning themselves with craft and art subjects. Even though in reality they're fairly close to maths.
    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "No more having to learn the names of British Kings and Queens"

      Bring it! Go back more than a couple of hundred years and you'll find that most of them were a bunch of c__ts who would make very unpleasant company indeed. You wouldn't be able to find a boot big enough to kick their arses out of your house if they invited themselves round for dinner, which by all accounts they did if you were rich enough and on their radar.

      By all means learn about what some of these tyrants and their chums did, and particularly why all that was very bad and not what we should be aiming for as a species, but learning the names by rote as if it somehow confers intellect is just padding out time for the pupils and phoning it in on the part of the educators involved.

      At school, I'd rather have learned about the historical events that influence and explain the world as it is today than what the names of the wives of King Henry the C__t were.

  4. The BigYin

    Sounds good

    And with the Raspberry Pi (amongst other) coming along, it could be just the ticket. I hope MS allow it to happen.
    1. PyLETS
      FAIL

      @The Big Yin

      The lobbying behind Microsoft's interest in this got us into this mess and won't help us get out of it. If MS have a veto, then why on earth should they want more programmers to be educated ? More programmers means more competition and less demand for their products. This reminds me of the mushroom school of management: keep them in the dark, feed them horse manure and don't let them grow too large before you sell them out.
      1. John Wilson
        Black Helicopters

        It's a MASSIVE CONSPIRACY

        Yeah, that must be it! Microsoft is engaged in a MASSIVE CONSPIRACY to eradicate computer programmers from the market who may, theoretically, challenge their monopoly, and in doing so Microsoft want to increase the scarcity of programmers, thus driving up their production costs!!!11one! It's a MASSIVE CONSPIRACY! (Has anyone got some coloured biros I could use to decorate this reply?)
        1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
          Stop

          Embrace, extend and extinguish

          Standard MS practice (see title). No doubt the kids will come out of school with qualifications in mainly mickeysoft related technology. I don't think MickySoft want to increase the scarcity of programmers, they want to increase the number of programmers that only know mickeysoft products. Coloured biros????? Just get a set of highlighter pens from the stationary press... :-)
      2. Goldmember
        FAIL

        @PyLETS

        It's highly unlikely that kids who take in interest in programming will then grow up and write an OS or an alternative Office program. It is, however, likely that they will grow up to create desktop/ mobile apps etc, thus CREATING demand for MS products, such as Visual Studio. That's why Microsoft now give away VS for free to Uni students etc., on the proviso they use it for educational purposes, and pay for a licence once they create something commercial.
  5. Richard Wharram
    Thumb Up

    It's a step in the right direction...

    Can't get much worse than it is now so cautious welcome here !
  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    boring

    Well Gove has done a big favour - not - to the existing ICT teachers by telling the world that the subject as it stands is boring. But he is probably right because he knows all about boring - did you see the party political lecture that he delivered to some school-kids the other day?
    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Gove?

      I remember his phoney outrage about something or other on Newsnight. I agree with him about ICT and programming, but he's a sh*t actor!

      1. Vic

        > he's a sh*t actor!

        That last word was somewhat superfluous...

        Vic.

    2. Jim Bobble
      WTF?

      Eh? It *IS* dull and uninspiring - not to mention a pile of shite. Building webpages in MS Publisher for GCSE IS? Do me a favour... When was the last time you saw something interesting, online, get built in Publisher? Virtually everything in IS and ICT was introduced to kids years before they started taking it as a lesson.

      Existing ICT teachers need a kick up the arse. They're just taking a salary for supervising an hour of web browsing, as it is.

  7. Valerion

    About time

    When I was a lad I did a GCSE and and then an A-Level in Computer Science (not ICT!) that set me on my way to a career as a software engineer. The language being taught does not really matter. I learnt BBC Basic. It was enough to spark the interest and it went from there. Actually come to think of it we did a bit of Logo in primary school on the only school computer. My 15-yr old daughter hates her ICT classes as they are so boring. I say that if they still need to teach some Word/Excel that they should do it as part of the English and Maths lessons. A couple of weeks of lessons on how to make stuff bold and underlined and simple formulas/graphs should be enough really. So I give this initiative a big thumbs up. With a son who might be doing this I might finally be able to help one of my kids with their homework!
    1. Poor Coco
      It's a good idea, switching teaching Word to the English curriculum and Excel to the mathematics one. Computer courses should be about, well, computers: how they work under the hood. Why is this so seldom the case? Four years ago I took pre-engineering courses here in Canada and there was an eye-gougingly bad MANDATORY course on Word and Excel (which even required us to hand in our assignments on floppies... have you ever heard of servers, you fools?) which was so pointless that I openly rebelled, much to the enjoyment of my fellow students. Things were not much better in actual engineering school. They taught us a dead-end C-based math tool that was less powerful, more abstruse and far, far less common than, say, Python but had the advantage of stroking the ego of the professor, who'd coded the P.O.S. language. Then they proceeded to teach C++ without ever talking about a scripting language. This succeeded in convincing the vast majority of future civil engineers that computers are stupid tools to solve problems with, since if you try to use them to solve a problem you wind up with many more problems and a lot less time on your hands. This is not to say, of course, that C++ is useless. But, in 12 years of Python development (including many scientific and some fairly computationally-intensive tasks) the sum total number of times I have needed to resort to a C-oid module for performance is precisely zero. Which, by my figuring, puts me way ahead of someone who'd slavishly adhered to the only languages I was taught in school (the complete list: BASIC, Fortran, C, C++).
    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward I remember messing about with Dark Basic and the joy my little 5 year old got from changing a few values in the "scripts" I had written to bounce 3D apples and footballs around the screen was priceless. She loved changing the values and seeing the effects on the screen in front of her, it wasn't just push a button and something happens she started thinking about what effect different numbers had on how the balls bounced around the screen. Alright it wasn't rocket science but it was enough to get her to realise basic cause and effect in a simple logical experiment. We need to give kids some kid of feedback from computers, realise there is more to computers than just tools. If after they have been taught what's going on behind all those windows they decide to go further great, if not well at least they may not take their gadgets quite so much for granted in future.
      1. Jemma
        Facepalm

        Cause and effect.

        My partner at the times daughter was good at cause and effect - she was generally the cause of stunned disbelief - the causation of which she enjoyed no end, as well as the results (Laura & I were usually laughing too hard to tell her off). This girl by the way is a pretty blonde blue eyed cherub with a PhD in looking innocent...

        The highlight of her career thus far was, at the age of 4, when asked by the Sunday School teacher of all people "what do you want to be when you grow up?" was to wait until she was sure everyone was listening.. and say very loudly and clearly "I wanna be a lesbian when I grow up...". The teacher was stunned, L was in hysterics with laughter - and all the parents had that 'oh god' look because they knew full well the next question from their kids would be "whats a lesbian...?".

        We dont give kids enough credit for what they pick up and when in this country. Its plain fact that kids learn very quickly from 3 years old or so, and it gets slower as time progresses. So it amazes that kids 3-10 are basically treated like buck toothed idiots in general, and then suddenly become sinks for information at 12? no wonder they lose interest. Its I think a subset of that thing where peoples perception says kids dont have a sexuality or healthy interest in the opposite sex/same sex/both at once/family dog until their gender expression and sexuality chip is installed at 00:00 GMT on their 16th birthday.

        Practically any child has the ability to do practically anything (I mean, if William Hague can be in the government, theres hope for us all), so its criminal that we proscribe and control the very people we are berating 5 or 10 years later for being apathetic and disconnected.

    3. Audrey S. Thackeray
      Yes, word processing in any language-based subject and spreadsheets in maths or anything else that is suited. Useful tools, might be considered essential these days but once the basics are down they don't need their own lessons. Frankly I wish I'd spent the hours wasted on trying to make my handwriting something other than a hideous scrawl on learning pivot tables instead.
  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward Whilst I agree that schools need to teach computer science rather than ICT, I can't see how this particular idea can possibly work in practice. If schools can teach what they want then every school will be teaching something different. How are the exam boards going to cope with that? What if a school teaches SQL and C++ and the exam questions are on HTML and Cobol?
    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      It will be like it used to be

      Exam boards set the syllabus, schools can choose from a variety of exam boards. Currently, Whitehall sets the syllabus…
  9. John Lewis 4

    Look at who's behind proposing this...

    Games! We need more Games!
    1. Dazed and Confused

      @Games, we need more games

      Yes, probably.

      There is no point in asking school kids to write an accountancy package. Boring!

      What we need is school kids to be enthusiastic. So get them to write something they would like to write.

      Games can teach them a lot of things. It is also likely to teach them the importance of performance rather than just assuming that Intel will make a faster box soon so if your app runs like shit, do worry the hardware will fix it one day. The kids will want it to work well now, so they can play NOW.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward It's a great step forward. My serious concern, and this is from experience, is a lot of programming is beyond IT (I refuse to call it ICT) teachers. This really does need addressing first with proper training where applicable and not just some hodge bodge resources thrown together from the Internet.
    1. Cliff

      Yes indeedy

      However it will never attract real programmers whilst it is really a MOUS GCSE - if it becomes possible to teach real programming maybe more competent teachers can be attracted?
    2. John Wilson

      Teachers

      I think you underestimate teachers. Have a look at the MIT Scratch environment that it seems Gove is endorsing. It's not my cup of tea, and wouldn't be my choice for teaching kids, but it is a relatively basic environment that appears to teach the basic principles. I'd imagine teachers would be able to pick it up quickly enough, assuming the resources are there to train them.
      1. hammarbtyp

        Actually its pretty good

        The open university chose it as there beginners programming language. I was very doubtful, but after seeing the results its pretty good. Its tied to some boards and allow simple I/O such as light detection motors etc. The real question is whether some learning scratch can then go on to learn a 'real' programming language
      2. <user />

        @John Wilson

        Unfortunately I really do not underestimate a good proportion of teachers. The saying "Those that can do, those that can't teach" has never been truer than it is at the moment. I worked around teachers in schools for years, and a large minority will struggle with the most basics of programming, and that is for the 'specialist' IT teachers before we even start talking about the many non-specialist teaching IT and other subjects in schools today. The British education system is shocking.
        1. <user />
          FAIL

          @Myself

          Do forgive me, I mean a 'large percentage' not 'large minority'. I should proof read a little better.
        2. 'arris

          point of view?

          Interesting that you go for the George Bernard Shaw quote of "He who can, does. He who can not, teaches" rather than the Aristotle quote of "Those that know, do. Those that understand, teach".

      3. keithpeter Silver badge
        Linux

        Scratch the itch

        The Scratch Web site has some documentation aimed at teachers, and teachers in the US have been building their own scratch 'projects' - there is a lot out there in terms of lesson planning already.

        Scratch is programmed in Squeak (modern form of SmallTalk). You can export programs as Java applets. You can (with a bit of jiggery pokery) access Squeak core objects from within the Scratch graphical front end. You can add your own extensions.

        Could be fun if the educrats can avoid smothering it all with assessment requirements...

      4. Dazed and Confused

        @Teachers

        Well at least in the case of primary schools, where one teacher is supposed to be able to teach every subject, they are having enough trouble already. Primary schools already seem to have given up teaching maths. My youngest is just in his last year of Primary school, his assessment for maths indicates who'd be doing well for someone two years old, but he'd barely covered the topics I covered at ago 7. Basically no algebra, no trig, wouldn't know what a log was to save his life, never been asked to solve anything.

        Sadly I don't think the teachers that are there are going to be able to teach people the logical thought process involved in learning to program.

        Unless you have enthusiastic teachers who are personally interested in computers and programming, I can see them struggling.

        Still I suspect that soon many of the kids will be able to help the teachers learn it.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          @Dazed and Confused

          I haven't kept up with how things have changed in teaching at primary level, but I'm fairly certain that (in the 1960s) my teachers were not expert in anything other than teaching. Between starting school and 7yoa I certainly only had one teacher for everything, and I was never below the curve in any subject (except PE!) I worry that this endless specialisation and measurement is part of the educational problem. Find enthusiastic teachers, remove the constraints, and let the kids fly!

  11. Tegne
    Childcatcher

    I'm surprised that Programming isn't already being taught.

    A major part of my O-level computer studies waaaaaay back when was programming on BBC Micros. I'm wondering whether this was because the teacher at the time was into programming and had free reign to set the syllabus or whether it was part of some broader guidelines.
  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Tom 38

    Programming *is* hard. The proper stuff, at any rate. Consider the drop-out rates reported here:http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/ThePerilsofJavaSchools.html and that's for a self-selecting minority who are both interested and think that they are good at it. Consider the famous double-hump: http://www.eis.mdx.ac.uk/research/PhDArea/saeed/ of compsci results.
    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It is and it isn't

      It's easy if your brain's wired the right way, otherwise you'll spend most of your time pissing in the wind. If your brain's wired the right way then it's likely that you can have a foreign language chucked at you and you'll pick it up by looking at the syntax. If it's not you'll panic because the chances are you learned by rote. I think the double-hump can be explained by those who chose computer science due to interest and those who chose it because they thought a degree in it would make them money.
      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ is and isn't

        too true. That will always be the problem with anything taught in school, if it's not taught by teachers with a real interest and to students with some aptitude and willing to learn the outcome will always be boring and useless. There is a bare minimum - the famous three Rs - that it really is essential for everyone to acquire, even at the cost of boredom, but beyond that education does need to be matched to aptitude and ability.
  13. Tom Wood

    Maybe the most sense that Gove has ever talked

    (which isn't saying much.) But beware the trap that lumps "programming", "software engineering" and "computer science" under the same heading. Software engineering includes more than just programming and computer science includes more than just software engineering. You can't really study computer science properly without including a fair bit of maths... are they going to look at the maths curriculum too or miss out such fundamental concepts as boolean logic and non-decimal number systems?
    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      To be fair he is an outsider.

      A lot of universities can barely tell the difference these days.
  14. mark 63 Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Scratch??? Scratch???

    "We could have 11-year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations using an MIT tool called Scratch." Why not an actual language? I dont care if it is "Designed for learning" Its the equivalent of teaching latin because it "underpins european languages" except without the cudos
    1. sabroni Silver badge

      It's not like teaching latin.

      IMHO programming is about how you approach problems and resolve them. The language you use is arbitrary and not really important compared to this. Do you really think it would be appropriate to try and teach junior school children c++? I think it makes much more sense to demonstrate the principles using a specially tailored language that hides a lot of the complexity, then allow children with an interest to take it further into the realm of "real" languages. A for loop is a for loop whether written in c++, VB, javascript or whatever....
    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Why not an actual language?

      Because by the time you've persuaded an actual language to produce interesting output, your 11-year old has fallen asleep. Learning doesn't have to be boring.

      As it happens, I was looking for a gentle introduction to programming at the weekend and found Scratch. My 10 and 7 year olds have been playing with it since, by choice. I doubt that would have happened if I'd started them on a "proper" language, but scratch is powerful enough for them to learn from experience about spaghetti code and badly named variables.

      In fact, I'm stunned that Mr Gove has stumbled upon such a good idea.

  15. Neil Spellings

    Word and Excel

    Yea, pointless learning these as it's not like the majority of white collar workers use them for their daily jobs. Oh wait..
    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Yes, and before computers...

      ... we used pens and paper. There weren't special classes in "writing" after junior school, and you certainly couldn't get a qualification in "writing".

      Once the basic skills were learned, they could be used to write in different languages, make mathematical notations, write up science experiments and so on. WP/spreadsheet/database programs are the equivalent of pen and paper - you use them to make something else possible. After the basics are learned at junior school, it becomes the role of the individual subject to teach the children how to use them for that purpose.

  16. Citizen Kaned

    they need to get this right before they screw the kids over...

    i was in the 2nd year of national GCSEs. the year previous to us (nationally) got much higher grades than expected. so, they decide to make our exams much harder to correct this issue. the consequence: our year got much lower grades than the previous. following year: they make them easier again as our year (nationally) didnt do well so, a whole year of school leavers get screwed with qualifications lower than they should have been. and since then they have gotten easier. (why are all the complex bits dropped now?) so GCSEs are essentially useless as your grade depends on how well you did also, an old A is now an A*, B=A, C=B etc. get this right first and dont fuck over a whole generation of school leavers... dont use them as guinea pigs!
    1. Cari
      Meh

      Amen. I'll never stop being bitter about the one A-Level IT Module the teacher gave me and a load of friends 100% in, that came back at the end of the two years from the examiners, all marked down to 60%, with no explanation from the teacher or exam board. It was a web design module, and we'd all gone above and beyond the scope of the module since we all had an interest and actually knew HTML etc. (rather than frontpage/publisher). That isn't to say we didn't do the boring bits to tick the modules boxes too.. we did, which was all the more frustrating.

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      You are partly wrong

      I was in the first year of national gcse's the main reason we got great grades was that we had the benefit of at least 1 year of the relevant O level syllabus for some if not all of the subjects. Having done both mock O levels and real GCSE's I can assure you GCSE's were easier.

      In practise you had it harder because your year had a syllabus designed to meet the requirements of the GCSE not potentially exceed it like ours.

      Totally agree with you on the A* grade though. Don't any of these idiots understand about normalising the scores to a bell shaped curve as they did with my degree exams?

  17. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Its not just boring

    its sodding useless. Teaching people how to do 19thC office things with a computer is like teaching people how to tow a filing cabinet behind a space rocket. At least with programming even if you dont get off the ground you get to look up. I just hope its general programming and not something Visual or some other proprietary lock in shit like MS just did on Open Standards.
  18. Anonymous Coward 101
    I went a Scottish school in the mid-nineties. The 'Computer Education' class I went on had some pointless stuff ('type four stories using the desktop publishing software') but some programming tasks as well. I think by the end of the programming module, there were about two or three versions of the same programs circulating around the class on a floppy disk. This will be a waste of time unless the programming tasks are set at the right level.
  19. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Optional

    > NASUWT challenged the notion that current IT teaching was "dull" It is not? Says who? > Removing the curriculum in the subject risked short-changing pupils HOW? > and creating a free for all Oh no, disorganization. IT MUST BE BAD. > Adding that school teaching shouldn't be left to the agendas of multinational companies. Preferring that school teaching should be left to the agenda of well-meaning left-leaning decision makers who like to mind other peoples' business. What could go wrong? Pretty apropos: http://mises.org/daily/5862/University-Guildsmen-and-Anticapitalism
  20. seansaysthis
    Headmaster

    difference between driver and mechanics

    We have reached the point where IT has become like automobiles. The majority of people that drive cars know little more than how to drive the thing badly . In the distant past people had to know a lot more about the actual workings of the car to drive it There are some , who are enthusiasts who know how to tinker with the engines and know what a slip differential is, I'd liken them to power users. Then there are the mechanics pretty much like the IT technican. However engineeers will always be engineers and a minority. With kids all you can really do is show them the possibilites of a career in Engineering . If they like to tinker with thing then they may well be attracted to a career in engineering. There is no shortage of resources on how to program and how computers work, there is a shortage in interest. The fact is that as any technology becomes more popular the number of people who really understand it diminsishes as a percentage. Science and Engineering need good PR . Ive spent the last 20 years working in the technology field and I'm happy I had the oppertunity. I've even managed to work on things that were mildly useful. Its something Id encourage any young person to look at. The possibities have to be advertised. There are very few superstar programmers and that is not going to change due to the nature of the job. The key is that there are oppertunities to learn and oppertunites to grow.
  21. George 8
    Thumb Up

    At last!

    I must admit to having more than a passing dislike to Mr Gove, on so many angles. This initiative leaves me feeling compromised. HOW, HOW could I agree with Mr Gove? AT LAST! is what I say. As a software engineer, the people I work with are generally 40+ blokes. Occasionally there will be a 30+ bloke and even less frequently a woman. Where are the kids? I have 2, neither interested in developing and no wonder given the IT and the support the school gives IT. Software development is a good, challenging industry, and UK developers are geenrally highly prized. Please let this continue even though most of our jobs are off shore now. One day UK PLC will wake up and realise that the stuff being developed offshore is at best poor and want to bring the said stuff back tot he UK. Who is going to develop this if we dont start to engage our children... The sooner the better.
  22. Some Beggar
    WTF?

    No curriculum? Has he read his job title?

    The point of a curriculum is so that we can exercise some content and quality control over what schools teach, and so that employers and tertiary education admissions have a basic idea of what a secondary school qualification means. If the current one is crap then replace it. Throwing it away and letting schools teach whatever they want is just headline grabbing flimflim. What will an ICT GCSE mean next year? You can build an AI-controlled drone helicopter? Or you can make a parish newsletter with MS Clipart? FFS.
    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      I'm baffled

      Why it would take 2 years to rewrite the syllabus?

      Most Reg commentards could write the outline in a couple of hours and 6-8 of us the whole 2 year syllabus in a few months.

      1. Some Beggar

        I doubt it.

        Most Reg commentards could quickly knock up a list of languages and tools they like or think are important, or a list of things they wish they'd learned at school, or a list of skills they think will be useful to the pupil or the economy. (witness most of the comments on this thread).

        Putting together an actual curriculum that will keep kids from either falling asleep or running riot and will give them a set of skills that are provable in an exam or assessment is a whole different thing.

        I wasn't really criticising the idea of taking two years to improve the curriculum, more the bizarre idea of throwing the current one away while you do it.

        It's like throwing the passengers out of a leaky boat and asking them to tread water while you build a new one.

  23. Richard Barnes

    A couple of thoughts

    The question is, why should children learn to code? One answer could be that it teaches skills such as thinking logically and breaking problems down into manageable chunks. But if this is the reason, there are any number of disciplines that could offer these, from cooking to Latin prose composition. Another answer could be that it helps UK plc if a proportion of children leave school knowing how to write code. But why? Are there really very many pure coding jobs left in the UK that haven't been oursourced? Lots of analysis jobs, sure, but coding jobs? So are we teaching children to code so that they can become analysts? If so, why don't we miss out the first stage and jump straight to teaching them analysis?
    1. TheOtherHobbbes

      I think the plan is

      that the UK will be able to march towards world dominance in Programming[tm]

      Especially games, and entertainment, and a bit of quanting, and stuff like that.

      This would be a good thing, if it weren't for one or two minor points - like the fact that programming is useless without both industrial and/or management strategy and design, and that practical programming skills have a nasty habit of becoming obsolete fairly quickly. (Just ask a Flash developer.) Especially if they're toy programming skills, like Sketch - nice toy though it is.

      So - programming is better than ICT, but a really interesting curriculum would combine development across multiple platforms with some element of useful, non-Hoxton entrepreneurship, perhaps larded with useful negotiation skills.

      Gove's mind - if it can be called that - seems to be trained too mechanically to think strategically. Flash some action words at him, and he's putty in the hands of lobbyists and advisors.

      Therefore drama and grandstanding and newsbites, but not so much deep insight into real educational needs.

      Also, who's going to pay for the teachers to support this bold new effort - the ones who will be giving up highly-skilled contractor posts for the academic front-line?

      (Not the Tories, that's for sure.)

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: why should children learn to code?

      Learning to code isn't generally useful, but learning how to control a cursed, wretched, bastard machine that does ONLY and EXACTLY what you tell it to do may well prove to be an essential skill for the general population in the 21st century. A computer is a reasonable platform to practice this skill.

    3. Richard 12 Silver badge
      FAIL

      They need learn to code *because* the jobs are going overseas

      The only major industries we have left in the UK are Service/Retail, Banking and High Technology. There are others but they are pretty small and unlikely to grow in the near future.

      Service and Retail don't actually make any money for UK Plc as you can't export either of them, they only redistribute wealth. Very important to society, and a lot of jobs here but doesn't affect the UK's import/export balance sheet.

      Banking creates money out of thin air, but much of it is "economically useless" as Adair Turner said, and doesn't employ very many people and is unlikely to grow in terms of jobs as it's already mostly automated anyway.

      High Technology is extremely exportable and the UK really does make a lot from this - things like satellites, electronics designs (ARM is *huge*), and software. Maybe we don't manufacture much of it - but we do design it.

      Unless we get a notable number of our children into that high technology sector, the high-tech jobs that companies need will go somewhere else and the UK will be properly screwed.

      So yes, we do need to teach our children to code, because then we'll find the x% that are great at it much earlier and can inspire them to be the next ARM. or CGI house. Or something else that nobody has even thought of.

      At present we're teaching those kids an "ICT" that is really "How to use MS Office". And that is boring - for a start, there is barely enough to fill two terms, let alone a full GCSE course. To make it worse, the pupils that find it most boring are the ones with an aptitude for real IT - so we're deliberately discouraging the very people we need.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        @Richard 12

        "Banking creates money out of thin air"

        Quite true.

        Then it makes it disappear *back* into thin air.

        Along with up to about 10x more of other peoples money in the process.

        Of course that could not *possibly* happen again, right??

  24. bonkers
    Megaphone

    Assembler?

    Would I be alone in suggesting that a foundation in assembler would be a good idea, in as far as it allows you to completely understand the machine, no mysteries, no unknowns. From this position then one can move on, knowing the ground is firm beneath your feet... It is then a ladder of trust to involve the compiler, various includes etc etc - but at least you know there is a level of truth, a bedrock. OK, it is unexciting compared to what can be achieved by cobbling together chunks of others' code, but the value of this is questionable - so what if i can make an unstable MP3 player - if i don't know how it works, or why it doesn't?
    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Would I be alone

      Not quite, to judge from the up-votes, and if you want to be a programmer I'd say these are essential skills (at least for the current generation of machines) but I'm not sure it is the best place to start with an average class of pre-teens.

  25. Kit-Fox
    Mushroom I've said it before & I'll say it again, we need better teaching of subjects like English, Mathematics & Biology, Chemistry & Physics (the three sciences) much more than we need CompSci classes in schools. Let those who wish to do computers explore it in 'addon' classes during a lunch break or after school or on thier own at primary/high school level. Keep it to the colleges & universities who are much better prepared to be able to teach it in a meaningful manner.
  26. Albert
    Headmaster

    If there is an exam then it will be boring

    When I did computers way back in the 80's it was an after school activity. So, we learned what we wanted to learn and supported each other as a group. Great fun, loved it and caught the bug. If I compare that to the subjects I liked with a formal exam at the end the classes were far less engaging as we had to be taught to the syllabus so we could do well in the exam. College was the first time I did any formal programming classes and it was the most boring subject I had. Luckily for me I had thought myself BASIC and Assembly on a C64 before going to college so I didn't have to worry about those classes. Programming can be enjoyable but if it in the early stages is too tied to an exam then a lot of kids will be turned off. Dry computer classes focused on passing an exam - yuck.
  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dull and demotivating - oh yes.

    I have a huge amount of resent for the curriculum I was "taught" at school that they called "ICT" - I did GCSE and AS level ICT between 2005-2007. I was eager to learn about computer science, learn about the hardware and low-level stuff, learn some programming languages and write some simple apps. I was brought up on Amigas from a very young age and have had a lifelong love for computers - spare time spent tinkering and wielding a soldering iron, rescuing 486s and Pentiums from skips and fiddling with old servers in our loft. I'd already designed and hosted websites for people by the time I was 15, I even had teachers asking for my help with computer repairs in spare time. So when we were tasked with designing Word/Excel templates on paper, spending at most about 25% of the time behind a keyboard, with most of it used to write descriptions and reasons behind the design of said templates, and my will to learn about actual computer science being dismissed as irrelevant, my heart sank and I lost all enthusiasm. I was told I'd be a failure, and I had no place in an ICT class. If I ever tried to have a conversation with the ICT teachers about stuff I found interesting like programming or hardware, I'd get looks of disgust. Needless to say I could only stand a year of AS, and I buggered off to do something useful instead. I'm glad this has finally been realized and hope that some day some better material will be taught. Through pure luck I've now worked for an international engineering firm for 3 years managing their IT requirements in 3 offices, from the server room to the employees' desks - not a single relevant qualification behind me. I'm planning to finish this year and go to University so I can finally earn a decent qualification and pursue my dream career of programming. I'm just bitter that my school days were so depressingly useless.
  28. John Lilburne
    FAIL

    Yeah we need ,,,

    ... loads more kids writing smart phone apps and javascript.
  29. So0bahth

    And the pendulum swings to the other extreme ... {sigh}

    I was a school teacher when Thatcher's DES removed computing and ARM in favour of office practice and Microsoft/RM. I was livid ... and completely lost it when 'New Labour' made things worse by handing over millions to 'support' this madness. ... But ... The problem isn't that ICT is *bad* and computing is *good*. All kids need both and some kids will get more benefit from one than the other.
  30. Sargs
    Trollface

    The long-term plan...

    Is to turn the UK into the world's child-labour coding sweatshop.
    1. Peter Stone
      And here's me thinking it was to make Britain great again by cracking the skasis paradigm
      1. Vic

        > And here's me thinking it was to make Britain great again

        Britain won't be great again, because everyone holding the purse strings has such an excessively short-term view of enterprise...

        Vic.

  31. Benny
    "By 16, they could have an understanding of formal logic previously covered only in University courses and be writing their own apps for smartphones." Assuming, of course, that we still have smartphones then - who knows what the next big thing will be in 5-10 years. Just seems that the Gov is grasping at IT related straws at the moment in a "look, look - we know about computers and stuff" panic. Whats wrong with learning the basics, creating spreadsheets, typing etc? You know, things that will be useful in almost all jobs? Those that have an interest in IT (like other subjects) will persue advanced stuff anyway.
  32. ScottAS2

    The UK already has an IT curriculum that involves programming...

    I'm sure the SQA would be delighted to offer its Computing qualifications at English and Welsh schools...
    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward I agree. I keep reading these comments about how terrible the Comp Sci stuff is in England and yet I remember doing programming (as well as basic networking and computer architecture) at Standard Grade level in the 90s...
    2. Enrico Vanni

      Tell me this isn't 't a dream...

      "I'm sure the SQA would be delighted to offer its Computing qualifications at English and Welsh schools..." ...you mean the qualifications that are about to be abandoned over the next two years to make way for the pig-in-a-poke that is 'Curriculum for Excellence - Senior Phase'? Oh, and NASUWT - STFU (and that is coming from one of your paid-up members). I don't know where to start on how delighted I am to read this news, and I guess I have to thanks Eric Schmidt. I hope this initiative spreads to Scotland (as long as King Alex hasn't shut the borders before then). Here's the rub though - I agree that the question has to be posed as to whether IT teachers are up to this. When I started in the profession 20 years ago I was unique - a Computing Teacher with a degree in Computing Science. Most at the time were retrained maths teachers and many (including my recently retired Head of Department) were bloody good, but almost as many were disillusioned History and Home Economics teachers (I kid you not) who had taken a 6 hour 'retraining' course (one told me the only thing they remembered from the course was 'Shift-Break'!!) Today I am not unique but still a very rare entity. As a result of amalgamating Computing and Business Education Departments into 'Technology' Faculties and having all the staff in the faculty teach IT to the lower school most IT teachers in Scotland are Business Education teachers, and my experience is that they resist any 'Computing Science' content being added to courses because they claim 'the pupils find it hard' (when what they mean is that they find it hard'). Also, statistically (and that is all that matters to Head Teachers) Computing has not produced the same exam passes compared to other subjects (the dreaded 'relative ratings) for several reasons - firstly because the groundwork for the courses is being delivered badly by people who are simply not experts in the subject (said re-trainees and Bus. Ed. teachers), and secondly because Computing is seen as a dumping ground for the less able students (sit them in front of a computer and they won't misbehave). Negative relative ratings (even if by a fraction as to be statistically insignificant) is death to a subject in any Scottish school, regardless of how important it is to the development of our youngsters and their career prospects. A headie would rather have everyone passing in basket weaving and be at the top of the relative ratings than risk their standing on 'hard subjects'.
  33. This post has been deleted by its author

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ICT vs Comp Sci

    I can't be the only programmer, who, if they're truly honest is pretty rubbish at using Excel for spreadsheety stuff.
    1. Neil Milner-Harris
      FAIL

      I second that

      Based upon my experience of my peers I would like to think that I am a pretty advanced Excel user when compared to other developers. However the gulf between my ability and those of my wife (an accountant and payroller) is frankly embarrassing.

      The fail is all mine...

      1. Vic

        > I am a pretty advanced Excel user

        My definition of an "advanced" spreadsheet user is someone who understands that it's not a fucking database.

        I don't meet nearly as many of these people as I should :-(

        Vic.

  35. hammarbtyp
    Facepalm

    I don't believe I saying this but...

    I agree with Gove(I Feel so unclean). From seeing my 12 year old daughter ICT lessons they are banal. Doing powerpoint presentations(My 5 year old can do those already) and little serious programming. The Open university does a very good beginners course based around a ardino processor based on Scratch programming language. It provides a really good introduction. So why not that or lego mindstorms even and enthuse the programmers of tomorrow
    1. So0bahth

      My, the OU has improved!

      Well that's a massive improvement for the OU. Not long ago their introductory programming course was MS C++ tied to the proprietary Borland IDE. Wrong language for beginners and the wrong development model. A well-designed scripting language, with simple syntax and a simple open source tool chain is the way to go. By all means, start with Scratch and Arduino, but sooner or later the kids need to learn to use a text editor and handle more complex hardware and software environments.
  36. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    A Cold Steelish & Efficient German School

    ..taught me PASCAL about 15 years ago. I now have a CS degree and I still think it is the right language to teach people how nice and robust programming can be, as soon as the pupil has mastered the syntax details. "Scratch" is an attempt to dumb down programming and will be nearly as useless as Excel macros.
    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Thumb Up

      @HowToDoProperJournalism

      "..taught me PASCAL about 15 years ago. I now have a CS degree and I still think it is the right language to teach people how nice and robust programming can be, as soon as the pupil has mastered the syntax details."

      Keep in mind that PASCAL was also designed as a *teaching* language and was "dumbed" down compared to the commercial languages of the time. Possibly it's 2 biggest weaknesses are that most people know it from the Borland version, which lacked at least one *major* feature (the ability to effectively do pointers to functions, a key selling point of C) from the full version and a not very standardised library interface (a *major* contributor to the success of FORTRAN).

      I agree that it was small enough to get to know well and teach key concepts, while being complete enough (provided your implementation had hooks into the OS) to do serious work.

      ""Scratch" is an attempt to dumb down programming and will be nearly as useless as Excel macros. "

      Possibly. On the other hand the demands of creating a system that children *wanted* to use was a key driver of a lot of the PARC work, Smalltalk and the Alto workstation design.

      Making kids stuff is *anything* but child's play (although at least one of them went on to code a flight simulator using LANDSAT pictures).

      Scratch *might* get IDE developers thinking a bit more about how they can help developers slot disparate stuff together without endless thumbing through manuals.

  37. WaveyDavey

    Some other things

    Really don't want to sound an apologist for teachers (I worked in schools for a few years, and they're all barmy), but... There was never any incentive for ICT teachers to know or care about programming - the imposed curriculum crushed any of that out of them. As an old fart who's school owned one RM380Z in 1982, and who went on to study computing at UMIST, I can certainly say there were no opportunities at my school to program back then. But the world has changed - PCs are now ubiquitous - I don't know offhand how many homes have a PC but I bet it's a fair percentage. ICT with programming / comp-sci fundamentals should not be a mandatory subject for all schoolkids, but those who *do* have an affinity for it would be well served by a better curriculum. Echoing others above, the thought of "teach what you like" is a fearful prospect in regards qualification, but a really decent curriculum to test against would be great. Raspberry pi - will order as soon as production starts (hopefully early feb) - my 3 kids vary from "not interested" 14yo boy, "bit interested but I'm a girl so we're thick" 12yo girl, to "whee dad, I got my arduino traffic light project working" 10yo boy, so I don't see all of mine becoming programmers.
  38. Daniel 43
    Still need to know how to use spreadsheets and word processing, even if not MS products!
    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      But not ...

      ... as specialised subjects. They should be taught as a natural part of subjects that require them.

      You don't have a qualification in "writing", do you?

  39. Microphage

    teach them the Eclipse IDE

    Eclipse IDE for Java Developers -- http://www.eclipse.org/downloads/moreinfo/java.php
    1. Windrose

      Don't.

      Teaching a product is a crap idea. Teach principles, not particular pieces of software.

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Speaking as an IT professional

      In my one attempt to use it I found eclipse the most overly complex unintuitive POS its ever been my misfortune to install.

      I don't see how it would add any value to ICT they'd be better off with textpad.

  40. Microphage

    computing tutorial website

    WiBit.net is a video tutorial web site offering cutting edge programming and computer tutorials. http://www.wibit.net/
  41. This post has been deleted by its author

  42. Jonathan Samuels
    Why exactly does the country need the entire population taught how to program? Schools should make sure pupils can use a word processor before they leave school (along with being able to read/write, speak a 2nd language and some basic science/maths). ICT that covers programming as an optional course is fine as a compulsory course is a complete waste of educational resources
    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      How many olympic runners does the country need?

      So why should PE be compulsory?

      If you never expose the kids to something how do you know which are going to be the ones to take to it?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Schools should make sure pupils can use a word processor before they leave school"

      Talk about aiming low! Computers and word processors are no longer the magic glowing glass window with writing on it that changes, you know. Basic word processor use shouldn't take more than a few weeks, including any familiarisation with the mouse and keyboard for any children who haven't really used them before.

  43. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    The parsing is screwed. They are dumping paragraph seperators

    what is it with El Reg developers?
    1. John G Imrie
      Joke

      what is it with El Reg developers?

      They have just hired a bunch of ICT students.

  44. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    Computer language scratch?

    Is the compiler called sniff?

  45. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Meh

    How is this ICT course of which you speak more extensive than an ECDL?

    Only it sounds *very* much like that subject.

    Seems to demonstrates you can use key PC apps in a basic way (and effectively walk upright without drooling on the floor at the same time).

    Took about 1 week for me to do all the exams having studied the CD.

    There's a reason it's called the European Computer Drivers *License*

    Reprogramming command keys, self modifying code (took me 5 years to find a use for it), compiler construction and parsing was a *totally* different course altogether.

    Might I suggest the only *lasting* skill so far has been being learning to touch type.

    It's 2012 and how many program by *handwriting* on a tablet ? Speech? Gesture tracking? Direct brain interface?

    They also told me every office would be paperless within 10 years of leaving school.

    They lied about that too.

  46. Snark
    Thumb Up

    About time

    I've been horrified what my son has been taught in ICT. Let them learn Word as part of an assignment in English, Excel in an assignment to maths. Relevant, directed, and a break from some of the other stuff but showing how its useful. They can take that to other wordprocessor and spreadsheets once they know what they are for.

    About time they might learn to be more than users but stretch them a bit. Not so sure about the let people decide what to teach them, that sounds scary to me... More postcode lottery.

    Bring on the Pi though, I was most pleased for my 13 year old to sound excited by it and ask when he could get one!

  47. Rosslee

    I did software engineering at university but skipped GCSE ICT

    As title, I talked to the ICT teacher about the content and where I was heading and he said basically it would be irrelevant and pointless for me to do it, the worst thing about teaching students how to use excel etc is that it is repeated year after year. You learn how to make one then are taught the same thing again and again and again.

    No wonder its boring

  48. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I was nodding my head with a happy smile until I read the Microsoft bit. I think I'd rather have the kids taught nothing rather than have them poisoned by possibly the most extensively known corrupt business organisation to darken the world of computers.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Dear God

      Hysterical much?

      There are dozens of companies far more evil than MS who for all their faults make some reasonably good products particularly as we are talking about programming their IDE.

      Next time you feel the need to get your pitchfork and shout "burn them" I suggest you point yourself at Armaments, Tobacco and Healthcare companies like PIP.

      For all their sins of which there are many MS have rarely if at all hurt people.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do it Govey..

    You know you want to...

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Minister

    "micromanaged by Whitehall"

    Why there are far, far, far more important things that needs and must be divested from its Whitehall ubermasters no?

    And, dear Minister, please ensure or beware that Whitehall will endeavour to recover the account even if it is purely for the cash cow flow?

  51. RISC OS
    FAIL

    Station 267 not listening...

    Station 168 not listening...

    How many british people share these fon memories of IT lessons? Then the "IT teacher" tries to protend he knows what he is doing a gives the old BBC micro a thump on the monitor... "Sorry you'll have to find a nother computer" was the usual response.

    After that sitting in pairs trying to learn about the battle of the bulge, or how to make a teletext page... the wonders of british IT lessons.

    Is it any wonder that there is an IT shortage? When 30 somethings grow up using BBC micros, and if they were lucky the acorn archimedes.... of course once you get in to the real world you soon realise that no one ever uses these things outside of school. Making everything you have learnt completely useless.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Yes - if only you had instead learned the job control language for a 1980 Tandem Q42B you would be employable today!

      School is about learning not training

    2. Tom 38 Silver badge

      @RISC OS

      I'm of the generation who learnt to program on BBC Micros (and later Archimedes), and there is plenty that it taught me that is still relevant today. It taught me how to hack*, which is something that keeps me paid to this day.

      * The positive variant.

  52. Burch
    Headmaster

    I assume the money will be available to employ the new teachers which will of course be needed.

  53. mhoulden
    Holmes

    Obviously programming is important (it's been my job since I graduated with a software engineering degree 10 years ago), but it isn't the only part of ICT. I think a good way to get office/secretarial skills in things like Word and Excel would be to include CLAIT or the ECDL as part of the national curriculum. It's not a GCSE but it's a much more useful job-related qualification that even kids who disappear before exams begin could use after leaving school.

    As others have said, teach the fundamentals (including why you would use tool X instead of tool Y) and get people working on assignments that allow them to be creative and experiment with things. A pile of Raspberry Pis could be used to teach computer networking, including different machines having different roles like one being a web server and another being a database. Having to choose between Inkscape and Gimp would demonstrate the difference between drawing and painting packages. Setting an assignment to record a video, edit it on a computer and add effects and a sound track would be a good way to introduce some very technical concepts. They could even get people using their mobile phones and understanding what the different settings are. Explaining the difference between a spreadsheet and a database might gradually start to educate people into when you shouldn't use Excel. Another important bit would be how and why to keep information secure, to avoid things like CDs lost on trains and kids hijacking each other's Facebook accounts. There's also lots of ways to get kids into coding which other people have mentioned, but ICT isn't just about that.

  54. Noodle

    IT != Programming

    Lots of talk about programming and software but not much detail on what if anything is going to be covered regarding operating systems, hardware, networking and the like. I am not a sysadmin but I think anyone seriously considering an IT career needs at least a basic grounding in these areas.

  55. thenim

    unless there is sufficient investment (i.e. better pay) to attract the right kind of teachers to teach this stuff, it's really not going to work is it?? there's lot's of rhetoric, but there isn't really any detail as to how any of this is going to work is there, and until it does, let's reserve judgement...

    I reckon they ought to allow schools to try to attract business sponsorship, and may be even partner with various companies to provide some form of input into teaching these courses - at uni there is quite a bit of involvement, but imo, by that point it's too late...

    The real folk who are engaged in real work in this field are the most ideally placed to take some of this responsibility, and I for one, if such a program was available and work were okay with spending an hour or so every so often on it, would gladly participate (I just don't want to be burdened with bullshit lesson plans and all that crap).

    at my last work place, they were big on getting into secondary schools and encouraging visits etc. to highlight what they did etc. worked very well.

  56. Mips
    Childcatcher

    I don't often agree with the politicians..

    .. but but the phrase "hitting the nail derectly on the head" comes to mind.

  57. Dario D.
    Thumb Up

    amen

    Amen. I believe computers/technology should replace almost all high-level math (or high-level anything), as it's something everyone will ACTUALLY use... imagine, especially in 10+ years from now. I believe there are several high-level subjects that should become electives only, so kids can focus on new areas that they'll ACTUALLY use... like: conversation, critical thinking, parenting (that shouldn't be an elective. Too many people will become parents, and they're HORRIBLE at it) and "understanding the world" (not like social studies). I think there's SO much to change, but I'm tired right now...

  58. koolholio
    FAIL

    POINTLESS

    If they are going to teach kids to work with Flash programming.... and how to handle sprites, why not teach them the basics of actionscript? Therefore making a USEFUL contribution, rather than a BASIC form of plagurism using someone elses scripting?

    Theres alternatives such as Swish, if Adobe Flash is too expensive?

    This is a plagurism of the term 'programming'! Removing the fundamentals... But again Im not saying start with ASM (assembly) language with kids either!

    They'll still learn more from programming a very BASIC EEPROM chip in a 'design technology / systems and control' lesson! (its very simillar to the concept here)

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