Curriculum review falls short on ICT, says ACS

Making a specific ICT subject available only in Year 9 is a mistake, says ACS

The Australian Computer Society hit out at a recommendation of the government-commissioned review of the Australian school curriculum that the 'technologies' subject should be introduced at Year 9 as an elective for students.

"We note that there is a significant division of opinion, and little common agreement, as to what the curriculum of this subject area should contain," the review stated.

"We also note that it is a work in progress in almost every other country we have analysed. By and large it is not mandatory elsewhere, and certainly not in the primary years. We are persuaded by the views of the subject matter specialist that, in primary school, it could be introduced, in part, in other relevant disciplinary areas, with an integration of the two strands of design and technologies.

"While there is a clear case for the introduction of the ICT capability itself to run right though the whole Australian Curriculum, we are not convinced that a separate subject of the kind that has been designed needs to be mandatory at any level. However, it definitely should be an elective subject from lower secondary school onwards. Considerable professional development will still need to be provided for teachers."

ICT is one of the seven general capabilities, along with literacy, numeracy, critical and creative thinking, personal and social capability, ethical understanding, and intercultural understanding, included in the Australian curriculum.

The ACS said the review's recommendation contrasted unfavourably with the UK, where students are introduced to ICT-specific learning in primary school.

"While there is a view that ICT contributes to a crowded curriculum, the ACS will continue to argue that ICT is a fundamental and critical curriculum area that should form the core of the curriculum, along with numeracy and literacy, as the economy and jobs market becomes increasingly digitally focused," the organisation's CEO, Alan Patterson, said.

"While it is good to see improved recognition of technology in the report, it stops short of recommending that students be given a technology education from early in their schooling life.

"By Year 9, students will have already missed critical opportunities to build their digital literacy and capability."

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