On Tuesday 16th October 2012 eTwinning ambassador, Paddy Carroll and two members of the National Support Service for eTwinning, Liz Arriens and Karen Cleland attended a forum at the Royal College of Surgeons, London: ‘The New ICT Curriculum: Creating a 21st Century Skillset’. This forum saw stakeholders from the education and technology sectors and key policy makers discuss the skills necessary for students to succeed in the 21st century - without a government prescribed programme of study.
• Ian Livingstone OBE, Fantasy author, Co-Founder of Games Workshop. Co-Author, NextGen Report and Government Adviser on ICT Curriculum Reform.
• Prof. Diana Laurillard, London Knowledge Lab • Lee Duffy, ICT Coordinator, Sir John Lillie Primary School
• David Brown, HMI and National Adviser for ICT, Ofsted
• Bill Mitchell, Director, BCS Academy of Computing
All forum presentations are available from insidegovernment.co.uk
“The UK’s creative, digital and IT industries are worth an approximate £102 billion pounds, however between 2005 and 2010 the number of students taking up GCSE courses in ICT showed a 57 per cent decline”. (Inside Government, 2012)
Factors such as the above and concerns from industry experts (such as Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt) as to why our education system hasn’t been configured to support young people to work for the companies like Google, have led to the government’s announcement of the removal of the statutory programme of study for ICT at KS3 and KS4, until a new ICT curriculum is implemented in 2014 for KS1, 2, 3 & 4.
The existing pedagogy has taught kids to be passive users, not designers, leaving the UK ill equipped to compete in a digital labour market. Basically we’re not using the right side of our brains enough! So instead of squeezing the old pedagogy, teachers in England have (for the next two years) been empowered to implement their own best known methods of teaching, with a continued individual responsibility to teach ICT to an appropriate level.
The above speakers stressed the significance of introducing coding to all students in a relevant and engaging way - that is putting the arts into STEM to make some STEAM! In preparation for this era dominated by technology, innovation and computers, the prerequisite is to ensure that teachers are equipped to teach coding. The methodology employed to do this is a collaborative one and the 'wiki' approach to the curriculum will enable teachers, industry experts and the private sector to collaborate in tailoring lessons for schools - effectively co-creating the new curriculum.
According to David Brown from Ofsted, evidence of ICT supporting progress across the curriculum and throughout the whole school, will be one of the key indicators of an effective ICT policy. Students should be inspired by the subject through opportunities to experience real world ICT, which in turn will spark imagination and creativity. A common thread throughout the forum was for teachers to make close links with local universities to establish digital leaders, whether they be teachers, teacher trainees or older students teaching the younger. Lee Duffy, ICT Coordinator at Sir John Lillie Primary School demonstrated how his school is already employing this methodology through an initiative with Roehampton University, which will bring 30 trainee teachers to the school to teach Scratch.
2014 and beyond
The new ICT curriculum in 2014 aims to see all children capable of creating 2D animations using Scratch by the age of 11 and by the age of 16 of writing code to create an App. Ambitious as it may be, the general accord is that kids are at a greater level than we think. However, this cultural change within the education system will take time, training, senior management involvement and as Professor Diana Laurillard highlighted, links to personal reward if it is to succeed.
Here are some links to help get started:
• Request a strategic information pack on teaching computer science
• Keep up to date with computing at school through CAS
• Make ICT more accessible and inclusive through Load2Learn
• Share Teacher Generated Pedagogies for the New Curriculum via the Pedagogical Pattern Collector
• Encourage young people to join groups like Coderdojo
• Watch creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenging the way we have been educating our children.
Finally, as part of eTwinning’s commitment to Continued Professional Development for teachers, we will be developing a ‘coding’ project kit, which will act as a step-by-step guide for teachers to employ the use of Scratch on the eTwinning platform, so that kids can be introduced to the basic concepts whilst collaborating with European partners - for added pedagogical value!
Professor Diana Laurillard stresses the need for teacher collaboration. Royal College of Surgeons, London: ‘The New ICT Curriculum: Creating a 21st Century Skillset’.