ICT 'poor in secondary schools', Ofsted says
The teaching of information and communications technology (ICT) is inadequate in a fifth of secondary schools in England, Ofsted says.
Inspectors said teachers lacked the expertise and confidence to teach more demanding topics properly.
The report said areas such as databases and programming were poorly taught, with some pupils making more progress outside lessons than in them.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said ICT teaching was "far too patchy".
Of the 74 secondary schools visited between 2008 and 2011, achievement was good or outstanding in just 27 of the schools, satisfactory in 33 and inadequate in 14.
In 30 of the schools, nearly half of students reached the age of 16 without adequate foundation for further study or training in ICT and related subjects.
Ofsted said in some secondary schools, pupils were being spoon-fed small pieces of learning and there were no opportunities to develop an understanding of programming.
The report also noted that the numbers of pupils taking ICT at GCSE ICT had plummeted since 2007.
In 2011, 31,800 students sat the examination, compared with 81,100 in 2007 - a reduction of 64%.
However, in England's primary schools the picture was more positive, with teaching judged to be good or outstanding in nearly two-thirds of schools.
Of the 88 primary schools visited, achievement was judged to be outstanding in 11, good in 39, satisfactory in 33 and inadequate in just five.
In the summer, Google chairman Eric Schmidt said education in Britain was holding back the country's chances of success in the digital media economy.
Dr Schmidt said the UK needed to reignite children's passion for science, engineering and maths.
Ofsted inspectors also highlighted concerns about children's safety while using the internet.
The report said: "While e-safety had been promoted effectively in all the schools visited as part of the survey, several of them had reported incidents of attempts to contact pupils inappropriately.
"In discussions with inspectors, the issue of underage use of social networking sites arose frequently, underlining the importance of schools continuing to maintain e-safety as a priority for staff training and awareness-raising with parents."
Chief inspector Miriam Rosen said: "In a world that is becoming increasingly reliant on technology, young people need to be given the opportunity to learn ICT skills in an interesting, challenging and relevant way.
"Schools should provide a range of ICT courses that are suitably matched to students' needs, support them with their learning and prepare them for higher education and for skilled work in a technological age."
Mr Gibb said too many young people were not being equipped with the skills and knowledge they needed for further study and the workplace.
He said: "It's clear that ICT teaching is far too patchy - with outstanding work in some areas but real weaknesses in the quality of courses, curriculum and teacher training in others.
"We want to move away from the over-focus on buying computer hardware, which dates rapidly, and towards teaching pupils to be technologically literate and quick to adapt.
"We are looking very carefully at ICT as part of the national curriculum review and have listened closely to the computing industry's calls for more rigorous computer science courses to help tackle the skills shortages facing high-tech industries."