There was a story earlier in the week about the IT industry organising to influence the quality of IT teaching in the UK, or is it England now. According to the BBC, they argue that teaching in schools focuses too much towards using office software, by which we all mean Microsoft Office. My experience as an observer, and parent of students is that the syllabus for our brightest and most committed IT students is exclusively about using Microsoft Office products. Frankly this bores the brighter students. This boredom was compounded at the turn of the century by the decision taken by many schools to teach the GNVQ syllabus, and not the GCSE National Curriculum. This decision was taken because good GNVQs scored more highly than the GCSE in the school league tables and it could be taught with the same time commitment.
Let me assure you that the GNVQ IT syllabus was boring, requiring a very narrow rote based skill set demonstrating the ability to write a letter, create a single table spreadsheet, create a powerpoint slide show and use a forms package. There is no HTML, no SQL, no scripting, no programming and very little hardware, I am not aware that they even opened up a computer to examine the parts or to learn about what are now called user installations. They didn’t even teach anything useful like how to configure an internet gateway.
Today I go to seminars where senior software development managers are crying out with frustration that Universities aren’t turning out skilled programmers. Europe and the UK’s system software business is tiny, there’s only one European CPU and no European computer manufactures. All Europe’s Computer Scientists work for US companies.
So at last, even some of the campaigners for the current curriculum recognise that its 20 years too old. It needs to change to encourage our best to work in IT and Computer Science.
The UK’s early specialisation makes this an issue of crucial importance. People that fail or give up at GCSE will be most unlikely to study such a subject at either “A” level or University.
This was written in 2014 as far as I can tell, got lost and then found, I posted it in May 2017 and backdated it to this post date.