The UK's school information and communications technology syllabus 'contains almost nothing about computing', the British Computer Society has complained.
On Thursday, the BCS welcomed the forthcoming Curriculum Review and pointed out what it sees as serious deficiencies in the way British children are taught about computing. Bill Mitchell, the director of the chartered institute for IT's Academy of Computing, said in a statement that "the majority of students leave school actively disliking what they mistakenly believe to be 'computing'".
"Computing is an academic discipline in its own right, underpinned by scientific and mathematical principles," Mitchell said. "It is concerned with the fundamental principles that underpin computer based systems and the programming languages they can execute. It is about how computers work.
"Our concern is that, ICT syllabus contains almost nothing about computing and in too many cases, students learn only how to use office software such as word processors or spreadsheets, and miss out entirely on the excitement of learning how computers actually work."
According to Mitchell, anecdotal evidence suggests that the ICT GCSE is "sometimes used as a soft option that will help a school climb the league tables". Because the computing syllabus is so poor, he said, applications for UK university computer science courses have dropped by 60 percent since 2000, despite the fact that demand for software professionals in the EU has climbed by a third over the same period.
"The UK economy is missing out because we cannot meet the urgent demand from UK companies for software professionals who have the expertise necessary to create business growth," he said.