School ICT Lessons A 'Turn-Off', Says Royal Society

Top scientists warn that information technology lessons in UK schools are so lifeless they are putting pupils off the subject and stumping future careers in computing.

The Royal Society said if the situation transpired it could lead to an unskilled workforce and threaten the UK's economy.

The society launched a study of how lessons might be improved and found that the number of pupils in England doing ICT GCSE had fallen by 33 per cent over the past three years.

There was also 33 per cent fall for six years between 2003 and 2009, in the number of ICT A-level candidates.

As a result of low interest numbers, the Royal Society is conducting a year-long study into how the curriculum and exams can be improved to encourage more students to take the subjects. There will aslo be more focus on training for teachers.

More than 20 computing organisations, including Google, the Royal Academy of Engineering and some of the UK's leading Universities who are backing the new study; 'Computing in schools and its importance and implications for the economic and scientific well-being of the UK' study

Chair of the study, Professor Steve Furber, told the BBC, "We are now watching the enthusiasm of the next generation waste away through poorly conceived courses and syllabuses"

"The UK has a proud history of leading the way in the field of computer science and associated disciplines, from the development of the world's first stored-program computers to more recent innovations such as the invention of the world-wide web.

"However, from this bright start, we are now watching the enthusiasm of the next generation waste away through poorly conceived courses and syllabuses.

"If we cannot address the problem of how to educate our young people in inspirational and appropriate ways, we risk a future workforce that is totally unskilled and unsuited to tomorrow's job market."

Professor Matthew Harrison, Director of Education at the Royal Academy of Engineering said: "Young people have huge appetites for the computing devices they use outside of school.

"Yet ICT and computer science in school seem to turn these young people off.

"We need school curriculum to engage them better if the next generation are to engineer technology and not just consume it.

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