Northamptonshire teachers criticise move to scrap GCSE and A Level ICT in schools

Library picture
Library picture

Government proposals to scrap GCSE and A Level ICT in schools has been criticised by the head of computing at a senior school in Northampton.

The move, put forward in a consultation document published by the DfE this week, would see information and communication technologies replaced with Computer Science. The Government says the new qualifications would “provide a strong foundation for further academic and vocational study and for employment”.

But many teachers disagree.

Kay Sawbridge, faculty leader for computing and ICT at Caroline Chisholm School, said it was a misconception that ICT was the same as computing.

“It is totally untrue. ICT is not just for weaker students. My current GCSE ICT students, many of whom are extremely bright, tell me they have learnt so much while taking this course and are enjoying their lessons.

“It offers students transferable skills that prepare them for life after school. I freely admit that I really enjoy teaching ICT (and computing) and am gutted that the Government thinks it is such a worthless qualification and should be thrown on the scrap heap.

“I love watching my students using software to be creative and imaginative; being able to ‘think outside the box’ and coming up with their own ideas on how to present all types of information.

“It’s not all about PowerPoint - think about the skills needed to create effective spreadsheets, videos, sound clips, web pages, animation, etc etc. The list is endless. They enjoy the innovative aspect of the ICT. I think it’s a huge mistake and a crying shame that students will no longer learn how to use software and learn about digital technology properly.

“Yes, Computer Science has its place but not every student wants to be a programmer or work in the computing industry but most will go on to university, college or get a job where they will need to use software effectively,” Ms Sawbridge said.

She added the Government did not inform teaching staff ahead of the announcement.

“Instead, they sneaked it into their consultation document about PE short course, Geology and Politics. This decision warranted two short paragraphs hidden on pages 10 and 11.”

A petition against the proposals has been set up. For more information, visit https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/111693

The consultation document states: “The reformed computer science GCSE and A-levels provide a strong foundation for further academic and vocational study and for employment. Ministers have therefore taken the decision not to approve two GCSEs and A-levels in a similar qualification space. The IT GCSE and IT A-level will not be redeveloped.”

A spokesperson for the DfE added: “The inclusion of computer science in the EBacc reflects its rigorous academic standards and entries have more than doubled in the last year alone, demonstrating the increasing popularity of the subject.”