The DFE have just published the response to the consultation on changes to the subject of ICT. The report, published on the 3rd of May, confirms that the subject will be changing its name as well as confirming the temporary disapplication of the National Curriculum.
It is envisaged that the new subject title will reflect appropriately the content included in the revised programmes of study for the subject which are more ambitious and rigorous than the existing (and now disapplied) programmes of study for ICT, and place much greater emphasis on teaching the principles of computational thinking and practical programming skills. Changing the subject name to computing is in keeping with the views of the largest group of respondents to the consultation and of key organisations such as the Royal Society, BCS – The Chartered Institute for IT, Microsoft and the Royal Academy of Engineering.
It would appear that a significant proportion of the respondents who disagreed or were unconvinced of the merit of the change in subject name were influenced by concerns that the draft programmes of study focused too much on programming and not enough on basic ICT/digital literacy skills; that some schools may need to recruit specialist teachers to teach the new computing curriculum effectively; and that there may be resource issues such as funding needed for teacher training and continuing professional development and for the purchase of relevant hardware or software needs. These issues will be considered separately as part of our ongoing consideration of the draft programmes of study and our implementation plans. Proposals by CAS suggest that Computing Science should be one of three strands of the new computing curriculum which should also include Digital Literacy and Information Technology.
Disapplication will have effect for the school year 2013/14, except in relation to English, mathematics and science for pupils at key stage 4 where it will have effect for the two years 2013/14 and 2014/15, because the new key stage 4 programmes of study for these subjects will not be introduced until September 2015. The reason why disapplication will not apply to English, mathematics and science for pupils in years 1, 2, 5 and 6 is to retain the statutory underpinning for statutory assessment at the end of key stage 1 and key stage 2 for those cohorts of pupils in summer 2014 and 2015, ahead of new assessment arrangements being put in place for summer 2016.
The intended effect of disapplication is to free schools up to adapt their curricula during the transitional period before the new national curriculum is introduced, should they wish to do so. This might, for example, involve early adoption of some aspects of the new national curriculum, or it might involve an adaptation to the school’s existing curriculum in order to ensure that any important gaps in pupils’ knowledge and understanding are filled before they begin to be taught the new programmes of study. It does not mean that schools will be free to drop the teaching of national curriculum subjects altogether: it will remain compulsory for maintained schools to teach all the core and foundation subjects at the same key stages as now. Schools will not be obliged to make changes to their existing curricula if they do not consider it necessary to do so.
A full text of the report can be read here and you have until the 3rd of June if you want to respond.