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23rd March 2007 at 00:00
Computer teachers complain of training cuts as the subject is embedded in the curriculum

Computing courses for primary teachers are being dropped in favour of making ICT part of literacy and numeracy training.

ICT teachers fear that the move may lead to the subject being sidelined in schools and teachers losing valuable computing skills.

A primary national strategy spokeswoman confirmed that "a small number" of ICT-specific courses had been cut as part of the drive to embed the subject within training for literacy and maths.

Naace, the association that represents more than 2,400 ICT teachers, highlighted its concerns about the moves in a submission to the primary review, a two-year investigation led by Cambridge university. The association said its members had enjoyed excellent training, but that "this seems to have changed dramatically over the past year", with events cancelled and pilot schemes shelved.

It added that the primary national strategy appeared to be undergoing a "reappraisal of priorities" because of pressure to focus on English, maths and inclusion. "Unfortunately, this has resulted in the cancellation of ICT-specific events... ICT will therefore no longer appear as a separate strand in primary... This is an area of serious concern," they said.

The submission concluded that more funding was needed to cover staff training, a reliable computer for every child and ongoing costs.

The association said that it was teachers' expert input that was key, rather than providing more whiteboards or computers. It argued for a classroom-based national training programme that could be tailored to individual schools' needs.

Mary Barker, general secretary of Naace, said: "To embed ICT in all curriculum areas is a very good thing, but what we do not want to happen is that embedding taking the focus away from ICT as a subject. Technology does not make a bad teacher good, but it can make a good teacher better.

Training is of vital importance."

Dave Brodie, head of Prince Albert junior school, Birmingham, which is at the forefront of ICT development, said: "You have to have some mastery of ICT to use it skilfully. Ideally, it should be embedded in the curriculum, but it is about balance."

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