I am head of information technology at a comprehensive school in Cornwall, and I am very worried about the effects of the new national curriculum on ITcomputing courses.
At present large numbers of students at key stage 4 in our school choose to take information systems within the technology option. They want specialist teaching in this vital area, and many go on to take more computingIT courses either at A-level or in further education. All students also do IT across the curriculum, but there is a significant group who want more than this: it is generally recognised that IT across the curriculum delivered by non-specialists can only achieve at most around a level 6 in attainment.
However, it appears that under the new curriculum all students will have to do at least a short course in technology. If this means the designrealisation technology as opposed to information technology, then no student will be able to take information systems within the technology option. Information systems will thus be relegated to the one "free" option with the other 15 or so popular subjects that students like to take. The consequence is that the numbers doing information systems will be much reduced.
Is this really what was intended? In the eyes of most people, information technology skills are more important than designrealisation skills, and certainly lead on to far more further education and career opportunities. To make DR compulsory over IT as a specialist course just does not make sense when society and industry at large are crying out for people with specialist IT skills.
The obvious way forwards is to say all students at KS4 should do either a short course in DR technology or information technology. This would mean students will still have the time to do a full GCSE course in IT. It may be that this is what was intended, but it hasn't filtered through yet!
I would welcome clarification from someone in the know on these points. It would seem decidedly odd if a national curriculum for the new age actually resulted in a drastic reduction in those students gaining special knowledge in such a crucial area.
HUGH WARDLE 17 Meadow Close Gloweth Truro, Cornwall