The UKIE-led, Next Gen Skills Campaign, submission argues that children should be taught the principles of ICT and Computer Science from primary school age onward, and later have the opportunity to specialise in Computer Science if they wish. Computer Science should be recognised as a fully-fledged scientific subject, to be taught in school on a par with other scientific subjects. Like the other sciences, it should have a practical as well as a conceptual aspect and can be taught alongside compatible subjects like Maths, Physics, Art or Design.
Next Gen Skills firmly believes that the Department of Education should minimise the risk of some schools misinterpreting the removal of the established Programme of Study to stage a ‘tactical retreat’ from ICT, to the detriment of Computer Science and digital skills as a whole. The consultation response states: “We are particularly concerned that without a clear vision on Computer Science from Primary school onwards this could occur in the period between the withdrawal of the Programme of Study in September 2012 and the introduction of the new National Curriculum in September 2014. There is some evidence from the academy sector that where schools have the opportunity to choose not to provide the ICT Programme of Study, the most common change is to stop providing ICT or design technology at Key Stage 4 – using time for modern languages and, only in some cases, Computer Science.” Any uncertainty caused by the removal of statutory assessments and attainment targets must be addressed by the ‘Route Map’ agreed with industry, professional bodies and universities and schools.