BETT, UK’s premier show for ICT education opens today just as Education Secretary for State Michael Gove is going to make it clear that school ICT as we know it is to be scrapped because it’s boring, useless or in his words ‘harmful and dull’. No coding in it you see, that’s the problem.
BETT as I have pointed out previously has no coding this year either and it would be entertaining to be on the packed train to Olympia listening to the ICT teachers’ comments as they digest the news later today.
Most of the ICT teachers I know would be excellent at eating or baking Raspberry Pi but would have no chance programming it. What we are to do with them now the ability to generate PowerPoint handouts with six slides per page is no longer thought to be a skill? Worse what will the exam boards do to cheat?
Quoting Yeats (again) from the Second Coming: Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world...
However for me there was a far bigger school ICT this week. BESA ( who are always at BETT) are a bit like BECTA but with different letters in the middle. Following a series of massive rip-offs by outsourced unscrupulous lease-mongers of IT equipment to Primary Schools BESA came to the conclusion that Primary Headteachers should acquire the skills to procure ICT equipment!
Hang on a cotton picking minute: the headteacher has steered her school through thousands of ‘initiatives’, met countless performance targets, placated hundreds of demented parents, managed, trained, even nurtured, young teachers (who change every few years), protected vulnerable children from abuse and in her spare time made sure that they got a decent education and if she gets two merely ‘satisfactory’ inspections in a row from Ofsted she will be compulsory removed from Local Authority control and made into an Academy controlled by weirdos from the Private Sector.
So now she is responsible for street-savvy procurement of laptops from snake-oil vendors?
Stop right there.
This response from BESA is a parable for all that is wrong with the school ICT business as promulgated by Microsoft and the UK Government. Twenty years on and billions of pounds spent after the BBC Micro and the hallowed ‘Golden Age’ of school computing we have a situation where the Secretary of State ridicules ICT. The laptop story illustrates the problem perfectly.
It’s not difficult to buy a laptop for your school at a decent price! It’s a laptop for the love of ... not a Tardis (you can get them on e-bay), they sell them in shops.
Ah, but if you buy into the ICT model you will find at BETT today it is a major trauma. Networking, security, child protection, buy now pay later, SMART this and dumb that. You would need training to navigate that soup.
And this is my conclusion. The elaboration of the vendor driven ICT market has mislead and bamboozled schools that it took an Eric Schmidt to make a speech this summer humiliating the country by basically saying ‘What the.............are you doing?’ ‘You were good once’
...the blood-dimmed tide was loosed