Michael Gove: His education and IT speech in full

Michael Gove: His education and IT speech in full

Judge for yourself. Can the education minister make a difference?

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We're not going to tell you what to do

While things are changing so rapidly, while the technology is unpredictable and the future is unknowable, Government must not wade in from the centre to prescribe to schools exactly what they should be doing and how they should be doing it.


We must work with these developments as they arise: supporting, facilitating and encouraging change, rather than dictating it.

By its very nature, new technology is a disruptive force. It innovates, and invents; it flattens hierarchies, and encourages creativity and fresh thinking.

I could say the same of our whole school reform programme. In fact, I'm fairly sure I have said the same.

Just as we've devolved greater autonomy to schools, and put our trust in the professionalism of teachers; just as we've lifted the burden of central prescription, and given heads and schools power over their own destiny; just as the internet has made information more democratic, and given every single user the chance to talk to the world; so technology will bring more autonomy to each of us here in this room.

This is a huge opportunity. But it's also a responsibility.

We want to focus on training teachers

That's why, rather than focusing on hardware or procurement, we are investing in training individuals. We need to improve the training of teachers so that they have the skills and knowledge they need to make the most of the opportunities ahead.

It is vital that teachers can feel confident using technological tools and resources for their own and their pupils' benefit, both within and beyond the classroom, and can adapt to new technologies as they emerge. That means ensuring that teachers receive the best possible ITT and CPD in the use of educational technology.

Working with the TDA, we will be looking at initial teacher training courses carefully in the coming year so that teachers get the skills and experience they need to use technology confidently. And we're working with Nesta who, supported by Nominet Trust and others, are today announcing a £2m programme to fund and research innovative technology projects in schools.

We must also encourage teachers to learn from other schools which are doing this particularly well.

Some ICT teaching in schools is already excellent - as reported in the most recent Ofsted report on ICT education and last year's Naace report, "The Importance of Technology".

Sharing that excellence will help all schools to drive up standards. We are already working with the Open University on Vital, a programme encouraging teachers to share ICT expertise between schools. High-performing academy chains will also play a huge role in spreading existing best practice and innovation between schools.

And Teaching Schools across the country are already forming networks to help other schools develop and improve their use of technology. The Department for Education is going to provide dedicated funding to Teaching Schools to support this work.

The current, flawed ICT curriculum

The disruptive, innovative, creative force of new technology also pushes us to think about the curriculum.

And one area exemplifies, more than any other, the perils of the centre seeking to capture in leaden prose the restless spirit of technological innovation.

I refer, of course, to the current ICT curriculum.

The best degrees in computer science are among the most rigorous and respected qualifications in the world. They're based on one of the most formidable intellectual fields – logic and set theory – and prepare students for immensely rewarding careers and world-changing innovations.

But you'd never know that from the current ICT curriculum.

Schools, teachers and industry leaders have all told us that the current curriculum is too off-putting, too demotivating, too dull.

Submissions to the National Curriculum Review Call for Evidence from organisations including the British Computer Society, Computing at School, eSkills UK, Naace and the Royal Society, all called the current National Curriculum for ICT unsatisfactory.

They're worried that it doesn't stretch pupils enough or allow enough opportunities for innovation and experimentation – and they're telling me the curriculum has to change radically.

Some respondents in a 2009 research study by e-Skills said that ICT GCSE was "so harmful, boring and / or irrelevant it should simply be scrapped". The Royal Society is so concerned that it has spent two years researching the problem with universities, employers, teachers and professional bodies – so I'm looking forward to its report, due to be published on Friday. And while ICT is so unpopular, there are grave doubts about existing Computer Science 16-18 courses.

In short, just at the time when technology is bursting with potential, teachers, professionals, employers, universities, parents and pupils are all telling us the same thing. ICT in schools is a mess.

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