Schools’ computer science criticised

Computing science in many Scottish schools has “diminished in popularity” and the subject “can too easily become a sterile and functional experience, lacking in creativity”, according to a report by Education Scotland.

“Where young people have absorbed this negative image, computing science has in some cases been removed from the school’s curriculum. This loss is highly significant and, where relevant, should form a priority target for schools to address.

“Computing science offers too important an experience for it to be left to chance whether it features in a secondary school curriculum or not. The radically revised curriculum pro vision in computing science at the senior phase presents an important new opportunity for all secondary schools.”

But the report, Building Society: Young people’s experiences and outcomes in the technologies, says there are schools that recognise its importance: “Some secondary schools provide exemplary programmes in computing science, enhanced by connections with, for example, local universities and businesses.

“These schools have successfully differentiated between ICT and computing science, with the former recognised as a permeating, potentially significant influence across the curriculum, where computing science addresses the highly technical and specialist strands of the science of computing, and information systems.”

The report also criticises schools’ approach to teaching ICT: “The inclusion of advice on ICT with the other technologies, whilst logical in one sense, has diminished its influence and impact across the curriculum, and falls short of national ambitions for this crucial influence on learning and achievement.

“Developments in the digital technologies have accelerated since the original guidance on ICT was issued for Curriculum for Excellence.

“These developments have left ICT to enhance learning looking like a dated concept, a product of its time which fails to promote an ambitious, accurate, forward looking and creative role for the digital technologies.”