Education secretary Michael Gove plans to divert the government's schools technology spending away from hardware and scrap ICT as a curriculum subject.
ChannelWeb was among the delegates addressed by Gove at the annual Bett show, which opened at London's Olympia today. The education chief opened his address by explaining that basic teaching methods were set for a radical shift, having changed little "since Plato established the earliest Akademia".
"The fundamental model of school education is still a teacher talking to a group of pupils," said Gove. "A Victorian teacher in a 21st century classroom would feel completely at home. But that model won't be the same in 20 years' time. It may not even exist in 10."
The education secretary criticised previous administrations for investing in tech slowly and ineffectively.
"There is a temptation to spend huge sums on hardware, which is obsolete before the ink is dry on the contract, and on [developing] skills and techniques that become superseded in the real world almost as soon as they are learned," he said.
Gove told attendees that the government needed to focus on the central question of, "What can technology do for learning?" He concluded that there are three key answers to this: augmenting teaching; creating new styles of learning; and enabling better assessment of education.
The government wants to shift away from big-ticket product frameworks and siphon money towards developing the technology skills of education professionals.
"When it comes to thinking about how the government will spend its money, we do not want to focus too much on hardware and procurement. We want to focus on investing in individuals. We need to train teachers so they can make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead," explained Gove.
He went on to outline his view, one that he claimed is shared by teachers and tech bodies alike, that the current ICT curriculum is not fit for purpose. The pace of change in the tech sphere necessitates a change in how we teach computing skills, he asserted.
"Disruptive technology has to push us to think about the curriculum," he said. "We have a problem with the current ICT curriculum: teachers and campaign groups have told us it is offputting, demotivating and dull. It has to change, and change rapidly."
The coalition wants to move away from "children being bored out of their minds being taught Word and Excel by teachers who are even more bored". With this in mind, the government is entering into a consultation period, with a view to axing ICT from the compulsory curriculum from the next school year.
"If a new computer science GCSE [were to meet] high standards of intellectual depth and practical value, we would consider including it [as an optional subject] on the English Baccalaureate," added Gove (pictured).
The UK fundamentally needs a "new national curriculum concentrating on the essentials", he said, while adding that "a more collaborative wiki approach" was needed to develop the finer points and devolve power to individual establishments.
"I have set out a direction of travel, but there is more to come and we will have more to say over the course of this year," he concluded.
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