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David Bowie
Turn and face the strain…

When I look back at all the exam courses I have taught over the last few years it strikes me how much change I have actually seen. From 2004 until now I have delivered: AQA GCSE Spec B ICT, AQA A-level ICT, CLAiT, AiDA & CiDA, Edexcel Applied A-level ICT, OCR A-level ICT, OCR A-level Computing, AQA A-level Computing, Level 2 OCR Nationals, Level 3 OCR Nationals, Edexcel GCSE ICT, AQA ICT Functional Skills and OCR GCSE Computing.

That’s 14 variations of ICT and CS qualifications over 11 years and not to mention how much KS3 has changed where the focus of ICT has shifted towards Computing. If I had stayed in the classroom I would be looking at several more years of change with new A-level and GCSE specifications on the horizon. It strikes me how unique ICT and Computing teachers are with the constant changes in subject focus. On many a cold winter’s night have I lamented with fellow department members about the demands placed on us every year just to teach our subject. I can’t think of many other subjects where there is level of flux. Has Mathematics really changed that much over the years? Do Science lessons really vary from a base knowledge specification to specification? Yes these subjects change, with the focus being different through various incarnations, but the not to the same level as poor ICT teachers face.

Don’t get me wrong, if changes need to be made then action should be taken. I fully support the upcoming changes to A-level and GCSE. It is absolutely right that ICT is developing into the complementary subject strands of Computer Science and IT. Just spare a thought for all the current CS & ICT teachers and trainees. One day we’ll all look back and laugh. One day we’ll wonder what the problem was. One day I’m sure that we’ll teach a core set of competencies and skills that are transferable between subjects and can be adaptable to whatever current technologies are being used.

He might not be have been everyone’s favourite Education Secretary but Michael Gove was on to something:

“Long after today’s pupils leave school and enter the workplace – long after the technologies they used at school are obsolete – the principles learnt in Computer Science will still hold true.”

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