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IT into the Curriculum

In ...


Work in Progress - needs to be completed



National Curriculum files

reflected in CD ROM

IT in the National Curriculum

Although IT was firmly built into the National Curriculum documents with its own attainment target as part of Technology and a spattering of mentions across other subjects and the guidance, it wasn't clear how it was meant to be implemented or delivered. In particular it placed a additional burden on subject teachers to not only deliver their own subjects but also parts of the IT curriculum.

focus on IT

Focus on IT Pack

Focus on IT

One of the key publications

Need text here








ImpacT Study

In January 1989 the DES commissioned the Centre for Education Studies at King' s College London to examine the impact of IT on children's achievements. The research plan involved a large 3 year study into the impact of IT on subject learning, specifically, English, mathematics, science and geography, for pupils aged 8–10, 12–14 and 14–16 years. This was carried out by Deryn Watson, Margaret Cox and they published the findings as the IMPACT Report: An Evaluation of the Impact of Information Technology on Children's Achievements in Primary and Secondary Schools[1]. The research revealed that IT can make significant contributions to teaching and learning, but a variety of inhibitors are still limiting the scope of impact. IT was found to have a positive impact on children's achievements, but this was not consistent across subjects or age ranges. This positive impact was difficult to separate from other such factors as pupil access and opportunity, teacher ability, and school and LEA (Local Education Authority) support. Of the subject areas studied, IT contribution was especially significant in mathematics, geography, and primary English. The results were influenced by the extent of use and integration of IT into subject teaching and pointed towards the existence of a "minimum threshold of IT use" before the impact of IT could be detected. The contribution of IT was in terms of increased motivation, concentration, and more challenging learning situations.

Still very rough - see history at Council Papers here for further


GEST Funding

GEST stands for "Grants for Education Support and Training" and were brought in by the Department to bring together ESG funding with other LEA focussed training and development activity into a single fund which would be focussed on supporting the implementation of the Education Reform Act including the National Curriculum as well as improving the recruitment of teachers [2]. There was specific funding for IT, government supported through GEST, (called GEST 10) an expenditure of £ 105m, primarily to increase the number of microcomputers in schools and to train teachers in the effective use of IT in schools. A further £30m of expenditure was supported in 1992-3.

GEST 10 is the category number allocated for IT development in schools, supported by government money. This article is a peculiar mix of ACITT (see here) opinion, government advice, NCET advice and subject details. Our intention is to make the content useful and yet brief, thus the source of particular comments in it might be unclear.

To support the government strategy to integrate information technology across the curriculum this year's money, through LEAs or directly, will be targeted at promoting the development of IT in specific curriculum areas in secondary schools, n amely: D&T, science, mathematics and geography. This is a marked departure from previous years, when LEAs and schools were left to their own devices to decide on the appropriate location and use of the hardware and software funded from the government grants.

ettington hall

Ettington Hall - venue for the Mathematics Conference

Curriculum conferences

In 1993 the DfE set up a series of working parties, conferences and seminars with organisations representing the four curriculum areas, to prepare plans and involve the subject specialists themselves in drawing up the priorities and purposes. It was felt that this ownership by the curriculum areas was essential if the initiative was to be successful and cause long term change in the nature and level of IT use in the subjects.

The conferences aimed to review the contribution of IT in geography, mathematics, science, and design & technology - in secondary schools; to take account of developments in business and industry; to identify strengths and weaknesses and to consider ways forward for the future.

There were several common themes:

. There has been significant progress in the use of IT in schools since their introduction in the mid 80s, but much of the progress is still patchy, and the work achieved by many children falls short of the broad and balanced IT curriculum envisaged by the national curriculum and restated by Sir Ron Dearing in his interim report on the national curriculum.

. Slimming down the national curriculum gives more scope for subject colleagues to make creative and imaginative use of IT within their subjects, but reluctant teachers and schools might mistakenly perceive fewer references to IT as diminishing its importance.

- IT has the potential to develop and extend good practice in the areas by widening the range of teaching activities and matching them to events and practices in the outside world. Present practice too often seems to bolt on AT5 activities onto the subject curricula, without any real delivery of IT which enhances the pupils IT capability.

DfE encourages LEAs not to spread the money too thinly. In addition they are encouraged to place the new projects in schools which could demonstrate current good practice.


A minimum IT entitlement for geography pupils has been defined by the subject association (Geographical Association [GA]). This entitlement is defined as those uses of IT to which pupils are entitled in school geography if their geographical knowledge, skills and abilities are to reflect and be relevant to the wider world. IT supports good geography education by extending pupils' abilities to enquire and find out ( information handing); by broadening the knowledge and information sources available (CD- ROM, remote sensed data);
by providing a deeper understanding of environmental and spatial relationships (modelling and Geographical Information Systems [GIS]); and by allowing pupils to consider the wider impact of IT use on people, place and environment.

GEST 10 activities are being considered as the minimum entitlement. This implies that consideration needs to be given to wider INSET and support than just those departments involved in the funded projects in a way which will affect the curriculum planning in all geography departments, as well as school specific initiatives which focus on particular IT applications.

A joint initiative from NCET and the GA has put in place a support project to prepare further guidance and materials.


IT is indispensable in the outside world of science and therefore in the provision of an up- to-date school science. curriculum. The areas of datalogging and scientific measurement; of simulation and modelling; of data access and handling; and of presenting and communicating information, were all identified as priorities at the science conference. The conference recommended that in planning its development programme for IT in the science curriculum, the school science department should concentrate on a relatively small number of applications, agreed to be of prime importance within the teaching schemes, and concentrate on these in depth. The benefits to be gained in this way, by teachers in developing confidence and competence and by pupils in the quality of the experience, far outweigh the provision of a superficial treatment of a larger number of topics. The usefulness of an IT co- ordinator to science was recognised but is no substitute for a collective responsibility by all teachers. [ Ed. this last staternent is intended as a positive comment not negative.]


There is a major need to achieve a better match between school mathematics and the outside world, where little use is made of the cherished algorithms and manipulations of traditional mathematics. More emphasis needs to be given to integrating the use of IT within the mathematics curriculum avoiding the commonly observed schism between pupils work on micros and unconnected work within their maths scheme, There is, for example, a good range of software offering a dynamic approach to geometry pre-16 and excellent sophisticated software for A level work. In addition schools need access to a mathematical spreadsheet, a graphics package, an algebraic manipulator, a statistics package, as well as generic software such as databases and spreadsheets, if the opportunities offered by IT in mathematics are to be realised. While the standard computers found in schools provide access to good educational software, the falling prices and convenience of portables, palm tops and graphical calculators offer low cost alternatives for particular types of application. Balancing priorities between different kinds of equipment, software and training calls for targeting resources if worthwhile outcomes are to be attained.

It is planned that support will be available to LEAs through new materials being written by groups working on projects for integrating IT in the mathematics curriculum, to develop cross-curricular links

and to strengthen links with the real world. Four regional conferences have also taken place to begin the involvement of mathematical subject specialists, involving the two main subject associations for mathematics (ATM and MA).

Design & Technology

Design and Technology is an ideal subject through which to naturally develop a broad capability in IT. More specifically, IT can be used within D&T as an aid in designing, modelling, communication, control, manufacturing, testing and planning. CAL (!) is one method of providing individual learning requirements.

A developing IT capability is the current and future workforce is essential for the well being of this country because the use of IT is now essential to industry and commerce. Hence the ability to use a broad range of IT skills which match many uses in the real world is a valuable asset for pupils in preparation for life and the world of work.

The following are some of the key findings of the subject conference:

. CNC machines are valuable in helping pupils produce good quality outputs, particularly those with impaired motor skills.

. The design and making of products containing electronics and using computers for control exemplify important aspects of IT.

. IT in D&T can only be taught competently by teachers who are themselves IT literate. Many teachers are not yet competent in the use of IT and need encouragement, support and training.

Still very rough

Ron Dearing

Ron Dearing

The Dearing Review

The Dearing Review[3], in 1993, was a response to teachers' complaints that the National Curriculum and its testing arrangements were simply too unwieldy and, indeed, to proposed teacher boycotts of the Key Stage tests.

John Patten as Secretary of State, the Department of Education invited Sir Ron Dearing to conduct the review, and a revised version of the National Curriculum was introduced two years later.

The key changes included a reduction in the amount of prescribed content, the restriction of Key Stage testing to the core subjects and the replacement of a 10-level assessment scale for each subject with 8-level descriptors.

From an IT perspective the Dearing Review cemented it firmly in the Nastional Curriculum stating that the basics of information technology should be regarded as a core skill and specifying the numbers of hours for which it should be taught. For Key Stages 1 this was 27 hours a year and for Key Stage 2 this was quantified as 36 hours a year but both as part of the teaching of other subjects. At Key Stage 3 it was allocated 45 hours a year but left the choice up to schools as to whether it should be integrated across other subjects or be a separate subject in its own right.

In 1993 the National Curriculum Council and the School Examination and Assessment Council were merged to form the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority.


[1] Watson, D. (Ed.) (1993), ImpacT – An Evaluation of the Impact of the Information Technology on Children's Achievements in Primary and Secondary School. London: King's College London.

[2] Goodyear R. (1993), "The In-service curriculum for teachers: a review of policy, control and balance." British Journal of Educational Studies Vol XXXX, No 4 Nov 1993

[3] Dearing Review (1994) - see online copy at