Computer games win a place in the curriculum

18th April 2008 at 01:00
ICT lessons aim to play a role in securing the future of the interactive entertainment industry

Schoolchildren will be taught how to design their own computer games as part of Scotland's new curriculum. The move is intended to ensure the continued success of Scotland's games industry, which employs more than 500 people and generates pound;20 million annually.

Pupils will also be taught how to use computer software to make animation and feature films. Some children across Scotland are already experiencing computer design and animation in class, but this is the first time guidelines have been published on skills they should have.

ELSPA, the organisation that represents the British computer game industry, said Scotland was leading the way. Paul Jackson, its director general, said: "The Leitch Review on skills, instigated by the Treasury, concluded that the UK was falling behind other countries when it came to developer skills - a vital resource for the UK games industry. The initiative in Scotland is clearly a step in the right direction. We hope similar schemes will be considered for the rest of the country."

Maureen Watt, the Schools and Skills Minister, said: "Technologies have become part of everyday modern life, whether in computer programming, engineering or craft and design, and we need to encourage children to be confident and competent when using them.

"There is huge confidence that Scotland will continue to play an important part in the future of video games and interactive entertainment, and we are focusing on establishing firm foundations for lifelong learning and, for some, specialised study and careers."

The guidance forms part of the draft outcomes published this week on the teaching of technologies in A Curriculum for Excellence.

It comes as a boost to ICT in Scotland after The TESS reported last week on fears about plummeting interest in computing: numbers have halved in university computing science courses in the past five years, while schools are cutting back, and in some cases scrapping, computing studies.

Academics have criticised courses for being "irrelevant" and "boring", although Scotland is a world leader in other uses of ICT in schools.

The TESS also reported last week on a groundbreaking Intermediate 2 qualification on internet safety, whose practical and topical content is more attractive to pupils than the content of computing studies courses, such as word processing and web skills which they have already mastered. It is the first SQA qualification to make its materials available by mobile phone.

Meanwhile, more than 900 pupils in 32 Scottish schools will be involved in a study looking at the impact of a brain-training computer game on learning. The Learning and Teaching Scotland research follows a small- scale pilot using More Brain Training from Dr Kawashima with P5 and P6 pupils in Dundee last year, which suggested it might help with maths, behaviour and concentration.


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