January 13th, 2012
|04:41 pm - Gove on ICT this week|
I haven't written anything about Michael Gove's proposals on computing in schools, which he announced this week. I don't think he's actually saying very much that is concrete.
I don't want to jump in and project bad things onto the void at the centre of his speech, though I do think that many people are projecting 'things I wish would happen' onto that space. For example computery people on the Guardian site saying 'Great, now all schools will teach Linux', or the author of The Geek Atlas writing 'We should look forward to a brighter future built by today's 11-year-olds ... it's time for a British computing renaissance.'
Basically Gove is abolishing the old ICT curriculum - which was definitely poor and needed to go, no argument. In its place he says schools will have the opportunity to choose to deliver better quality and content.
The existing Programme of Study will remain on the web for reference. But no English school will be forced to follow it any more. From this September, all schools will be free to use the amazing resources that already exist on the web. Universities, businesses and others will have the opportunity to devise new courses and exams.
I am not clear about how he is going to enable improvement, or ensure that schools don't use the freedom to offer something less ambitious, rather than more challenging. Particularly as many teachers have no training in technology. However, there might be proposals coming up which will fill the void. Honestly, it would be too easy for me to say 'I bet this is all a big con with nothing to back it up'. Of course I suspect this is another example of a politician saying something which is quite at odds with the actual effect of the proposals, but I don't know enough to say for sure.
It's easier to say, effectively, 'trust me I'm a government minister' when your government has not pissed a lot of people off! There again, I'm a huge fan in general of abolishing national curricula and allowing teachers to take more responsibility, so I'm all for this in principle.
I tend to agree with you. When I used to teach way back we had much more freedom than they have nowadays and I think we set ourselves higher standards. But I am suspicious of Gove, and I think some of the Linux crowd are a bit gullible.
My guess is that the better schools will take the opportunity to upgrade their curriculum and the less good ones will take it as an opportunity to do less.
I know what you mean, and the best schools will be ahead of any technology curriculum because the real world changes so quickly.
We were trying to create something which addressed those problems - somehow setting a minimum standard to bring the best schools up, without cramping the more ambitious, and flexible enough to adapt as technology adapted. But I don't know how well it would have worked in practice.
What worries me is that schools will have their hands full keeping up with the English Bac and everything not actually mandatory will be neglected.
I suspect the Microsoft exam will be the one that most young people in most schools will take, as it will be the one that is mentioned in job descriptions ("Microsoft Leavers' Certificate, or equivalent, with evidence of full familiarity with Microsoft products for equivalents"), although many private schools (and public schools aping them) will offer Mac to less able students, and the Cambridge Advanced Linux Examination to the more able.
Not that the Mac certificate will be any easier than the Microsoft one, but will need very different skills and knowledge to pass. It will be much harder to teach (because creativity - or, at least (for a pass grade) looking cool - will be a vital element). I will, additionally, be more expensive to examine.
There will be an alternative to exams, consisting entirely of course work: this will enable children to demonstrate improving speed and accuracy at data entry. Some company currently outsourcing to India will provide schools with audiotranscription equipment, and shift, sorry, class supervisors so that No Child Will Fail to leave school without, at least, this most basic of qualifications.
That may be why Microsoft are all over this like a rash
Maybe they'll just outsource and let Prometric test centres do all the exams..
The promises in the speech sound too vague to indicate an improvement, sounds more like a free-for-all smorgasbord.
Great to hear from you again catalyst. I think you are right. Computing is competing for resources and classroom time against lots of other subjects, which have higher status. I don't think there will be consistent improvement.