Here is the text of a letter I’m sending to Nicky Morgan regarding #ICTgone – hope I haven’t been too soft.
Dear Mrs Morgan,
I am a Head of ICT and Computing at a state secondary academy in Oxfordshire. I am writing in my personal capacity and not as a representative of the school.
I would like to seek clarification on the decision taken by the Department for Education to cease redevelopment of the GCSE and A Level Information and Communication Technology specifications as outlined in the ‘Further additional GCSE and A Level subject content consultation’ launched on the 3rd of November.
- The consultation document lists ICT for both GCSE and A Level subjects for redevelopment as recommended by Ofqual on May the 10th (Pg. 9). This means that in-between May and November a decision has been taken to not redevelop the subjects. However I have been unable to find any public consultations prior to this decision. I would like to therefore know how this decision on not redeveloping two subjects was taken.
- The decision to not redevelop ICT on the basis of it being in a similar qualification space as Computer Science is difficult to understand. ICT and Computing are two fundamentally different subjects offering different outcomes to pupils with different interests and abilities. Computer Science as a subject will prepare those pupils who choose to take it for a career in fields relying on aspects of Computer Science such as programming and systems development. It will not however provide the digital literacy which all pupils require and which is not currently not served by any DfE curriculum.
- Although there have been many excellent programs throughout the years encouraging girls to take Computing recent figures such as the number of pupils who sat A Level Computing in June 2015 (456 female students out of 5383) indicate that for the foreseeable future Computing is going to remain a largely male subject. There will therefore not be a recognised digital subject which is seen as an attractive option for girls.
- If the decision to not redevelop ICT is maintained I am also concerned about the lack of DfE support for schools to continue to deliver alternative options such as level 2 ICT courses offered by other providers. I believe it is paramount that further guidance could be issued by DfE to schools to help safeguard necessary alternative IT education for pupils at KS4 and KS5.
- Although I am fortunate to be at a school where I have the full support of my leadership team I see it as likely that schools will look to make cuts if they are unable to increase computing uptake. Although looking forward it will be difficult to make predictions this decision seems likely to have an impact on jobs.
- Lastly I would like to seek clarification on how much influence BCS, as providers of the ECDL course, had on the decision to not redevelop GCSE and A Level ICT. As they stand to benefit financially from schools moving to their qualification this would call into question whether your decision was made in a completely impartial manner.
I look forward to your response.