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ICT Classes Boring Students

Experts from across technology and education have called for more challenging ICT classes - with some saying the course should be dropped altogether.

Students should be challenged by computing classes, rather than merely taught how to use basic programs, speakers at a Westminster eForum on IT skills said.

A-Level students can choose between Computing Science and ICT courses, while a Computing GCSE was only piloted last year.

The GCSE ICT courses were the target of much derision at the event, with teachers and IT experts saying the classes offer little more than the basics of Microsoft Office.

Miles Berry, senior lecturer at Roehampton University, said such classes are teaching "ICT literacy", but not real computing skills.

Simon Humphreys, coordinator at the BCS Academy of Computing, said ICT courses were not "fit for purpose", and left students "bored rigid."

"A lot of teachers I speak to are bored rigid themselves with ICT, but don't have the skills to do anything about it," he added.

"It's time to put computer science on the curriculum," said Humphreys.

The problem extends to A-Level ICT classes, too. Drew Buddie, the head of ICT for the Royal Masonic School for Girls, said the AS Level coursework involved basic theory, as well as making a mail-merge document, a six-slide presentation and a Microsoft Publisher document.

That showed ICT doesn't need to be a course on its own, he said. "There's not enough substance to it as a subject."

Ian Livingston, chair of Skillset, said students need to learn how to use productivity suites, but not exclusively. "Of course children need these skills," he said, "but they shouldn't spend the whole year on them."

Rachel Jones, head of education at Steljes, agreed that such lower-level ICT skills were necessary for teaching, and should be used in other classes. "But that is an entirely different thing than teaching programming," she said, adding that's what industry needs schools to focus on to fill the ever-widening skills gap.

Buddie said students want to be challenged by computing classes. He noticed that iPhone app development is now listed as possible coursework in the GCSE curriculum, and offered his class the choice to try it out: "I saw their eyes light up."

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