The teaching of information and
communications technology (ICT) is inadequate in a fifth of secondary schools in
England, Ofsted says.
Inspectors said teachers lacked the expertise and confidence to teach more
demanding topics properly.
The report said areas such as databases and programming were poorly taught,
with some pupils making more progress outside lessons than in them.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said ICT teaching was "far too patchy".
Of the 74 secondary schools visited between 2008 and 2011, achievement was
good or outstanding in just 27 of the schools, satisfactory in 33 and inadequate
In 30 of the schools, nearly half of students reached the age of 16 without
adequate foundation for further study or training in ICT and related subjects.
Ofsted said in some secondary schools, pupils were being spoon-fed small
pieces of learning and there were no opportunities to develop an understanding
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Young people need to be given the opportunity to learn ICT
skills in an interesting, challenging and relevant way”
End Quote Miriam Rosen
The report also noted that the numbers of pupils taking
ICT at GCSE ICT had plummeted since 2007.
In 2011, 31,800 students sat the examination, compared with 81,100 in 2007 -
a reduction of 64%.
However, in England's primary schools the picture was more positive, with
teaching judged to be good or outstanding in nearly two-thirds of schools.
Of the 88 primary schools visited, achievement was judged to be outstanding
in 11, good in 39, satisfactory in 33 and inadequate in just five.
In the summer, Google chairman Eric Schmidt said education in Britain was
holding back the country's chances of success in the digital media economy.
Dr Schmidt said the UK needed to reignite children's passion for science,
engineering and maths.
Ofsted inspectors also highlighted concerns about children's safety while
using the internet.
The report said: "While e-safety had been promoted effectively in all the
schools visited as part of the survey, several of them had reported incidents of
attempts to contact pupils inappropriately.
"In discussions with inspectors, the issue of underage use of social
networking sites arose frequently, underlining the importance of schools
continuing to maintain e-safety as a priority for staff training and
awareness-raising with parents."
Chief inspector Miriam Rosen said: "In a world that is becoming increasingly
reliant on technology, young people need to be given the opportunity to learn
ICT skills in an interesting, challenging and relevant way.
"Schools should provide a range of ICT courses that are suitably matched to
students' needs, support them with their learning and prepare them for higher
education and for skilled work in a technological age."
Mr Gibb said too many young people were not being equipped with the skills
and knowledge they needed for further study and the workplace.
He said: "It's clear that ICT teaching is far too patchy - with outstanding
work in some areas but real weaknesses in the quality of courses, curriculum and
teacher training in others.
"We want to move away from the over-focus on buying computer hardware, which
dates rapidly, and towards teaching pupils to be technologically literate and
quick to adapt.
"We are looking very carefully at ICT as part of the national curriculum
review and have listened closely to the computing industry's calls for more
rigorous computer science courses to help tackle the skills shortages facing