Programming not a high priority for future computer science curriculum say ICT teachers

Programming not a high priority for future computer science curriculum say ICT teachers

ICT teachers appear to regard the development of programming skills as a low priority for inclusion in a new computer science curriculum, according to a survey conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER).

NFER’s Teacher Voice omnibus survey found that only 14 per cent of a sample of 770 ICT teachers in primary and secondary schools reported that the development of programming skills was a high priority for their school for inclusion in a new ICT/computer science curriculum. Thirty per cent reported it was a low priority, and 12 per cent reported it was not a priority at all.

In addition, while over half (55 per cent) of ICT teachers reported feeling ‘very confident’ or ‘confident’ about teaching a more flexible ICT/computer science course, a notable minority (18 per cent) reported ‘not being very confident’ or ‘not at all confident’.

Matt Walker, a Research Manager at NFER, said: “the findings suggest that more work needs to be done in equipping ICT teachers with the skills and expertise required to teach computer science and in communicating to them why it is needed.”

Against a backdrop of inconsistent quality of ICT teaching, particularly at secondary level, and falling numbers of young people choosing to study ICT at GCSE and A Level [1], the Department for Education has decided to disapply ICT from the National Curriculum from September 2012. A new Programme of Study on computer science will be introduced from September 2014. In the interim period schools will still be required to teach ICT to pupils at all key stages, but teachers will have the flexibility to decide what is best for their pupils without central government prescription (developing what has been dubbed a ‘wiki’ curriculum).

Ends

For more information contact: Sarah Fleming, NFER Media & Communications Executive, on 01753 637155, s.fleming@nfer.ac.uk.

For more information, visit NFER’s Teacher Voice omnibus surveys

Notes for Editors:

Responses were filtered by those respondents who answered ‘yes’ to the question ‘do you teach ICT?’ It is likely that the resulting sample includes both ICT subject specialists and non-specialists and staff who teach discreet ICT lessons and those that teach ICT as a component within their lessons.

The research is based on the responses to the following questions.

Table 1

Recently announced changes to the teaching and learning of ICT in schools give greater freedom to teachers to decide what is covered. In your view, which of the following areas are priorities for your school for inclusion in a new ICT/computer science curriculum?

High Priority
%

Medium Priority
%

Low Priority
%

Not a priority at all
%

Not sure/not yet decided
%

Missing

Learning basic/common computer skills (e.g. word processing)

66

23

7

1

4

<1

Ability to make choices about when and how to use different technologies/ICT

53

34

6

1

6

<1

Development of programming skills

14

34

30

12

10

<1

N=770

Due to rounding, percentages may sum to more than 100
A filter question: all those who reported they taught ICT
Source: NFER Teacher Omnibus Survey April 2012.

Table 2

How confident do you feel about teaching a new more flexible ICT curriculum / computer science?

%

Very confident

12

Confident

43

Neither confident/unconfident

18

Not very confident

14

Not at all confident

4

I don't/won't teach ICT/computer science

1

Not sure until the new curricula are agreed

9

Missing

<1

N=770

Due to rounding, percentages may sum to more than 100
A filter question: all those who reported they taught ICT
Source: NFER Teacher Omnibus Survey April 2012.

The NFER is the UK’s largest independent provider of research, assessment and information services for education, training and children’s services.
www.nfer.ac.uk

Footnotes

[1] In their evaluation of ICT education in schools in England 2008-11, Ofsted reported that the teaching of ICT was good or outstanding in nearly two thirds of the primary schools and less than half of the secondary schools visited. Nationally, the numbers of students entered for GCSE and A level in ICT subjects were reported to have continued to fall since 2007. (ICT in schools 2008–11, 2011)




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