National strategy for IT needed

6th September 1996 at 01:00
I look forward to the special feature that The TES Scotland plans to run on November 8 on Information Technology in Scotland.

IT in the Scottish curriculum is an area fraught with confusion and difficulties and is increasingly becoming an area of conflict.

Business practice, and technology dominates the current Scottish IT curriculum and is delivered in an inefficient and ineffective manner by two separate departments.

Business education IT is seriously out-of-date reflecting the business environment of the 1980s.

The need to provide students with a relevant academic and vocational business experience is essential especially in today's competitive market-place. Unfortunately the Higher Still policy of minimal change makes the prospect of any real curricula change unlikely leaving Business education IT in its current neglected position.

Computing IT courses are similar, if not identical, to business education IT courses are predominately that of the business environment.

The computing curricula is, however, slightly more up-to-date. My view is not shared by computer staff who tend to ignore the context of their IT courses and concentrate on whether the course is that of "tool user" or "tool designer". Presumably a "tool user" being an office employee and a "tool designer" being a computer software developer. The movement of computing into IT courses delivered within the business environment to meet the requirements of their "tool user" element prior to the delivery of their "tool designer" element has done nothing to improve the Scottish curriculum and has had a detrimental effect on business education.

A national strategy for IT, what it is and where it should be taught, is urgently required. The feature to be run by The TESS will hopefully shed some honest light on this contentious issue and perhaps identify a way forward.

CAROLINE URQUHART Business education teacher Moira Terrace Edinburgh

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