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Government Promises ICT Education Boost

The government offers a review, but thee is no sign of coding on the National Curriculum

On by Iris Cheerin 0

The government today responded to industry’s call to reform education and introduce more relevant IT skills into the classroom.

The 19 page response, detailing Government’s plan to support the NextGen proposal, acknowledges the technology and VFX (visual effects) industries’ contribution to the economy.

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“The economic and cultural value of the UK’s video games and VFX sectors is clear and the long-term potential of their global markets present a great opportunity for UK-based businesses. It is an industry that has real potential to create the high quality jobs of the future that will be so important as we recover from the recession. We need to invest in talent that will ensure the UK remains at the forefront of games creativity,” said Creative Industries Minister, Ed Vaizey, in a statement.

According to the response, ICT is currently part of the National Curriculum at all four key stages (ages 5 – 16). However, it recognises that the current ICT programme is insufficiently rigorous and in need of reform.

Covering each of the 20 specific recommendations made by Next Gen for Government, industry and educators to transform the UK into the “world’s leading talent hub for video games and visual effects,” the report confirmed that a review of the National Curriculum was already underway, launched on 20 January 2011.

No guarantees

According to the response, while English, Maths, Science and Physical Education would remain as subjects, all other subjects, including ICT would be fighting for their place. “If ICT were to be included as a discrete subject within the new National Curriculum, then work on a new Programme of Study would begin next year. As part of that process the review will consider the teaching of computer science within ICT. In the event of ICT not remaining part of the Curriculum, attention would still need to be given to ensure children could acquire computer science skills.”

The report added that the IT GCSE was also in need of reform, and that Government would be looking at ways to improve the course, including e-skills UK’s “Behind the Screens” project which aims to trial a possible reformed IT GCSE curriculum.

In addition to the curriculum review and the pilot IT GCSE, the Government said it believed that developments such as the Raspberry Pi computer project had a role to play in stimulating and motivating children to understand basic computer science in schools. “Much as the BBC Micro inspired a generation of computer programmers in the early 1980s, the Raspberry Pi could provide the platform for teachers and pupils to gain hands on programming experience. Raspberry Pi is an example of how games developers are finding innovative and affordable solutions to tackle the perceived issues highlighted in the NextGen Report.”

“The key themes of NextGen resonate far beyond video games and VFX. Many of the skills demanded by these employers are equally desired in the much wider economy, from the digital and creative economy of business software, telecoms and social media to the cutting edge of engineering and design.  Ensuring the UK has a strong supply of the skills described in NextGen will help realise the full potential of these industries,” according to a government statement.

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