A written statement released today by Leighton Andrews AM, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Education and Skills:
The ICT sector in Wales is a driving force in both economic development and wider social change and it encourages productivity and competiveness across the economy. The sector in Wales is global and dynamic and includes a wide range of companies from blue-chip corporates through to innovative small and medium-sized enterprises across IT services, software, telecommunications and electronics.
In this context, I am determined to ensure that learners progressing through our education system have the skills required to work in and contribute to the sector.
There has been a significant decline in the number of learners taking the GCSE ICT course in Wales and I am aware that some employers have expressed concern over what is being taught in schools, that young people are being ‘switched off’ careers in the sector, and that they lack the necessary skills. There is a risk that the current curriculum is failing to provide young people with relevant skills.
On 1 October 2012, I announced a review of assessment and the National Curriculum in Wales. The review aims to streamline and simplify assessment arrangements and consider the National Curriculum core and other foundation subjects at each stage, to ensure that our expectations of content and skills developments are suitably robust.
As part of this wider review, the time is right to consider the future of computer science and ICT in schools in Wales. I will begin this process by chairing a seminar on 19 November, which will bring together some of the key players in Wales to discuss the future of ICT in schools.
I have invited representatives from the National Digital Learning Council, Further Education, Higher Education, and industry to contribute to what I hope will be a lively and informative debate on the best way forward and how to ensure that Wales is well placed to play a leading role in the global economy of the future.
I have been invited to this meeting on the 19th, so I hope to have more information in a couple of weeks.
Perhaps, because ICT is becoming so prevalent across all areas of academia, ICT as a GCSE isn’t necessary any more?
This is exactly why the term “ICT” is confusing and needs to be gradually phased out — it conflates too many things in school e.g. the curriculum subject currently named ICT, aspects of digital literacy, computer science (sometimes), the IT infrastructure (e.g. labs and the network), as well as technology-enhanced learning (i.e. the effective use of technology in all subjects to support learning and teaching).
With technology being so important, it is imperative that we are focusing on the right things are school — we need to make sure that we are not just creating a generation of technology consumers. IT user skills are very important, but that should be the baseline. A deeper understanding of technology can turn you into a creator rather than a consumer (i.e. program or be programmed).
I highly recommend reading the executive summary of the Royal Society report on Computing in Schools published in January: Shut down or restart?.