Why Eric Schmidt (and quite a few others) are only partly right

Ewan McIntosh has  pointed out Eric Schmidt is wrong in Scotland, but he is also wrong in England as careful readers of the ICT National Curriculum Programme of Study and (particularly) the Level Descriptors (the key bits of which I have extracted below):

Level 3 – They use sequences of instructions to control devices and achieve specific outcomes.

Level 4 –  They plan and test sequences of instructions.

Level 5 –  They create sequences of instructions and understand the need to be precise when framing and sequencing instructions.

Level 6 – They develop, try out and refine sequences of instructions and show efficiency in framing these instructions, using sub-routines where appropriate.

Level 7 – They develop, test and refine sequences of instructions as part of an ICT system to solve problems. They design ICT-based models and procedures with variables to meet particular needs.

Level 8 – They design and implement systems for others to use.

Now, I know as well as anyone, the dangers of reading small elements of a document in isolation. The key bit about these extracts is they were written in this way specifically to permit and encourage those ICT teachers who were wanting to develop programming within the ICT curriculum.

The LDs were written this way to enable those who wanted to continue to use Design Tech teachers to cover part of the ICT curriculum using CAD/CAM and hi-tech lathes to do so. But there were some of us (on long afternoons in meetings in the bowels of QCA) who wanted to develop programming skills (particularly web-based languages) and this wording change facilitated that.

The beauty of the ICT national curriculum documents (thanks Terry, Margaret and the rest of you – you know who you are) is that they allowed innovative teachers to bring all the aspects of new technologies into the ICT classroom. The words prevented nothing. Perhaps it is this very flexibility that was its only weakness – the range of opportuities was too great and no critical mass grew up about any of them. No consensus ever really evolved around what ICT and Computing actually are. Perhaps that’s the discussion we should usefully be having, rather than the negative and essentially destructive one that seems to require us to choose between ICT or Computing.