Ofsted sends ICT to the naughty step

ICT in schools, 2007 Image copyright bbc
Image caption Computers in schools now...

We've heard it from games companies and Google, from pupils and teachers - and now we are hearing it from Ofsted. ICT teaching in schools just isn't up to scratch.

This morning Ofsted has published a report into ICT in schools in England over the last three years. It's couched in fairly bland language but the conclusion is clear - young people are being failed by the standard of teaching and the content of the curriculum when it comes to learning about technology which will be essential to their personal and professional lives.

After examining inspections of ICT teaching in 167 primary, secondary and special schools, the education regulator concludes that the big problem is at the secondary level.

In 30 out of the 74 secondary schools, pupils got to 16 without having been given the skills necessary to progress further in the subject. And in almost a fifth of these schools Oftsed describes achievement in ICT as "inadequate" - a failure rate that would be considered something of a scandal if it applied in some other subjects.

Perhaps the most startling figure in the report is the drop in the number of students taking the GCSE in ICT - down from 81,800 in 2007 to 31,800 this year, a 64% fall. It seems that young people are voting with their feet after suffering dull, uninspiring lessons designed - according to complaints I hear - to prepare them for clerical work rather than give a deep understanding of how to be creative with computers.

Image copyright bbc
Image caption ...and then

Ofsted's Chief Inspector Miriam Rosen seems to agree:

"In a world that is becoming increasingly reliant on technology," she says, "young people need to be given the opportunity to learn ICT skills in an interesting, challenging and relevant way."

The good news is that there now seems to be a real momentum behind change, with lots of imaginative schemes designed to put a bit of fizz back into ICT teaching.

I'm spending today filming one such scheme, at a south London school, where pupils will be taking part in a competition to design smartphone apps. Instead of banning phones from the premises, this school is integrating them into a lesson, hoping to teach them that ICT can be about creativity rather than just learning about word processing and spreadsheets.

You should be able to see my report on a TV news bulletin later today.

Update 1711: Here's that report from the school.

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Media captionSchool children talk about designing their own mobile phone app