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Home Policy Curriculum Government hands ICT curriculum over to industry

Government hands ICT curriculum over to industry

Only selected stakeholders get chance to influence draft ICT Programme of Study
The Department for Education has handed over responsibility for the draft ICT Programme of Study for the new ICT curriculum to the British Computer Society (BCS) and the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng).

These two organisations will lead on the development of curriculum work for all pupils in key stages 1 to 4 – and they are giving selected, invited stakeholders just one week to respond to its draft programme. The schools community is not included.

On September 18 the DfE signed a memorandum of understanding with BCS and RAEng stating: "It is essential that the Programme of Study is developed in association with and has 'buy-in' from key stakeholders across the sector." They will have to move quickly. The draft programme has to be submitted to the DfE by the October 23. The 'official' version will be published early in 2013 for public consultation.

More information can be found on the EdFutures wiki. The wiki also reveals that the collection of organisations behind the drive for curriculum change – the BCS, RAEng, Naace (advisers and consultants), ITTE (teacher educators), CAS (Computers and Schools), NextGen (industry) and Vital (teacher educators) – have found a very high level of consensus. (Apparently the group also includes three secondary computer science teachers, two university computer science academics and three teacher educators, two of them primary.)

'Digital literacy' an early casualty

It seems the notion of "digital literacy" has been an early casualty. This is how the wiki contributor describes the development: "To my great surprise we made significant progress in reaching a shared (I think unanimously) view about the key high level areas that needed to be included.

"Fundamental to achieving this was moving away from using some of the terminology that has caused so much confusion and disagreement in the discussions of the ICT curriculum over the last few years (eg digital literacy). Instead we went for a three strand approach: Fundamentals; Application; Implications.

"We then proceeded to debate our views on the purposes and aims of ICT. The importance of ICT being inspiring and creative was emphasised, as was the critical need for the impact of ICT on all disciplines to be recognised and thus built into the PoS for all the other subjects. We talked in quite a lot of detail about the specific 'elements' that should be taught at KS1 and KS2 – and again there was a high level of agreement.

"We spent a little less time on KS3 due to the pragmatics (people needed to leave!). There was some concern expressed about there being a PoS at KS4 – some members of the group felt very strongly that the ICT PoS shouldn't cover KS4 because of the realities of how that might work given that the main drivers at KS4 are the national exams (currently GCSEs)."

The group now has its work cut out to get its draft programme ready to share with selected stakeholders by October 1. Respondents will get just a week (until 12 noon on October 9) to make their views known (they are advised "block time in your diary"). Of course there will be the opportunity for responses to the DfE publication consultation but the wiki makes it clear that the important moment to wield influence is right now. That opportunity is not extended to schools and teachers.

EdFutures wik 
This is a revised version of the original article following clarification from Peter Twining that consultation on the draft programme of study is not open (see below)

Comments (7)
7 Sunday, 14 October 2012 20:53
Crispin Weston
I think there is really a bit naive to think that it is teachers who should set the curriculum. Teachers are the "suppliers" of formal education - it is the rest of society who are the paymasters and consumers of formal education. It is for them to say what they want out of it and teachers to come up with ways of delivering. I also think that Peter's "embedded ICT" agenda is completely unrealistic and has a strong tendency to "techno-zealotry" - to use a Joe Nuttism. See my recent blog-post at on this in relation to the Naace/ALT Better Learning Through Technology report. Similarly with the first of Peter's four points definiing Digital Literacy ("Understanding the impact of new technologies on society, including the ways in which new technologies change disciplines (e.g. history, chemistry, English, etc)"). If new technologies change disciplines, then it is for subject specialists to explain how this is happening, not some sort of ICT commissar who becomes an expert on every subject discipline under the sun. I have no problem with Peter's other three points for defining Digital Literacy - though I think the overall definition about "operating effectively as a citizen" is a bit woolly and grandiose: who are we/you (teachers in general and ICT enthusiasts in particular) to lay out manifestos about what it means to be a citizen in the 21st century? There is a more immediate goal of Digital Literacy: the ability to operate effectively as a *learner*. That, I think, should be the primary goal in KS1-3. And because that is where teachers are the "consumers" as well as the "suppliers" of the education, then *that* is where teachers might still have something to say.
6 Tuesday, 25 September 2012 04:40
Peter Twining
No need to apologise Simon. I totally agree with Bob that the embedded use of new technology across the curriculum is of critical importance – it needs to be built into every subject. I have ranted elsewhere about how new technologies have changed the nature of all disciplines outside school (eg see ). 
5 Saturday, 22 September 2012 10:21
Simon Shaw
Involvement of all stakeholders is very important BUT I happen to agree with Michael Gove that some decisions are best placed in the hands of professionals, ie teachers and those experienced in developing meaningful, relevant, academic curricula and learning in a particular subject.
The thought of industry representatives creating a curriculum for teaching in schools is for me even more infuriating than having examination bodies effectively imposing curricula on schools through trite qualification specifications. Some might welcome this and say, "Yes, let's have accountants and statisticians creating the mathematics curriculum and novelists and journalists creating the English curriculum". Not I... Doing a thing is not the same as studying a thing. Those who are good at a thing are not necessarily the best people to support the study of that thing for those who are not good, or don't have an apptitude, for that thing. You end up with programmes of study that aim to advance those who have an aptitude for the thing (there is nothing wrong with this in itself) but do not support those that do not have an apptitude.
This is not the right approach for statutory subjects where we expect every child to be able to achieve certain standards. This is compounded if a programme of study is written with assumption that every person teaching it has an apptitude for the thing as well (eg a point I noted having tried to explain binary notation and boolean logic to primay ICT co-ordinator colleague).
I'm pleased that Merlin did manage to mention Naace, which as the ICT association is battling on to get the voice of teachers and schools heard. I hope that practising educators get heard and not just those with the loudest voices and a passionate interest in the debate. Sorry Peter.. I also agree with Bob that many schools will lose sight (or take longer to see) that the internet, personal devices and social media have changed the way that learning takes place for all of us in the 3rd Millennium. These schools may be able to get their pupils to do well in final exams but they will not be preparing them for life in the real world...
4 Friday, 21 September 2012 18:15
Bob Harrison
This is welcome news but why has it taken so long since the Gove BETT speech? And if the point of "disapplying" the Programme of Study was to allow schools to innovate and experiment, then surely they have only just started?
I assume it is the timetable for the National Curriculum review which is driving this. Thanks for the clarification though Peter,,,  too have been anxious about the "Schmidt" influence on the ICT curriculum in schools and especially in the early key stages. ICT will be a compulsory National Curriculum subject and we must not forget that. It is vital we get this right!
When it comes to Computer Science I attended the launch of the Computing at Schools Network of Excellence launch at Manchester University last night (fittingly the Turing University) and was inspired by the stories already emerging from the fast developing networks of schools and Computer Science Departments. I have every faith that this aspect of the ICT curriculum is in good hands. As for the NC ICT, I am a little concerned that the ICT teachers (especially primary) and indeed the pupil voice (digital leaders?) will not be heard for the drafting of the PoS and consultation, but feel confident that Bill Mitchell at BCS will endeavour to ensure all stakeholders will get a hearing.  
However, my main anxiety is for what I consider the biggest issue  which will not be covered by the ICT National Curriculum or the Computer Science issue and that is the use of technology to enhance learning for all pupils across all subjects. For me this is the overriding issue and biggest challenge. I think that is where the newly established teaching schools and the remaining ITTE Higher Education providers should really focus their attention.
3 Friday, 21 September 2012 13:26
Allison Allen
Very interesting article - thank you! There is much here of concern to all those involved with ICT in schools and how it can transform education. Can I just add a slight clarification - Naace not only represents advisers and consultant but teachers, schools and suppliers. Allison
2 Friday, 21 September 2012 10:06
Peter Twining
I fear that I had mis-understood the process for developing the first draft of the ICT PoS. The initial consultation (between the 1st and 9th October) will be targetted - identified stakeholders will be asked to provide input . This first draft will NOT be made public.  There will be a full public consultation in 2013. I have updated the incorrect information on and apologise for my original mis-information about the drafting process. :O} My other comments still stand ...  PeterT
1 Friday, 21 September 2012 09:01
Peter Twining
I wanted to clarify some things .. Firstly, whilst I think that the first draft of the ICT PoS will not use the term digital literacy it definitely will cover things which most of use would think were included within that term - you can see my definition of the term at
Secondly, the short time for feedback on the first draft of the ICT PoS reflects the timescale that the BCS and RAEng have been given for pulling together a draft ICP PoS for the DfE - the MoU with the DfE was signed on the 18th September and they have to have delivered a draft to the DfE by the 23rd October. The DfE will then review and no doubt revise the draft that BCS/RAEng submit, and there will then be a full public consultation in 2013.
So this first review is an opportunity to influence the very early draft, prior to review by the DfE and then a full public consultation. BCS and RAEng are at pains to get stakeholder input and buy-in. If you have been following my views on the emerging debate about the ICT curriculum over the last few months you will know that I have been pretty critical of the hard Computer Science push, which I thought was inappropriatley overshadowing the larger issue of preparing digitally competent citizens.
I am currently feeling much more comfortable that a sensible balance will be achieved in the BCS/RAEng draft PoS - and the shift away from talking about Computer Science, IT and Digital Literacy was fundamental to that progress being made in my view. Too many people have too many vested interests tied up with the terminology (myself included). I for one am very happy with the move to Foundations, Application and Implications as the three core strands within the ICT PoS ...   PeterT

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