Hasan Bakhshi and Juan Mateos-Garcia - 11.01.2012
First, in its admission that computer science is core knowledge, as 'essential' as maths, physics and chemistry. Mr Gove announced today that "if new Computer Science GCSEs are developed that meet high standards of intellectual depth and practical value, we will certainly consider including Computer Science as an option in the English Baccalaureate."
The significance of this policy shift cannot be understated.
After a successful pilot in 2010, the examinations body, OCR, is making its GCSE in Computing available to all schools for the first time. The grassroots teachers' organisation, Computing at School, has already produced a detailed computer science curriculum and programme of study. What's more, we have the experience of leading countries in this area like Israel, South Korea and India to learn from.
A second big win today is Mr Gove's acknowledgement that even a perfect curriculum on its own will do nothing if school teachers are not given the training they need to teach it. There had been some concerns, following the postponement of the National Curriculum Review, that the DfE might water down its earlier commitment to ensure that teachers had the right skills to teach computer science. Mr Gove's announcement that he will be working with the TDA to review initial teacher training courses in the coming year gives some reassurance.
A third reason why we are smiling today is Michael Gove's acceptance that video games can help young people acquire essential knowledge in a way that engages them. This was a major theme in Next Gen - the argument that video games and visual effects technologies should be used to attract students to STEM subjects and improve educational outcomes. Indeed, this is one of the reasons why bodies like the Institute of Physics, STEMNET and the British Computer Society were so keen to develop our policy recommendations with us - a topic we wrote about in one of our earlier blogs. The use of video games in education is a theme we intend to explore more deeply in NESTA's Digital Education Consortium project on the innovative use of technologies in education that was also mentioned by Mr Gove today.
One final thought: this is a topic that people care about.
Within an hour of the speech's delivery, BBC Online had already clocked 500+ comments on its news story. At NESTA we still receive emails from teachers, businesses and parents asking us how they can get involved with the campaign.
We look forward to working with the DfE and partners in coming months to make the commitments in today's speech a reality.
This report sets out how we can transform the UK into world's leading talent hub for video games and visual effects industries.
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"Our research on the shortcomings of ICT teaching, and its detrimental effect on the talent pipeline for the whole UK economy, has made a strong impression on policy makers."
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