Policy Matters

Encouraging e learning at Primary level

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School children are going to be taught how to use websites like Google Earth and Wikipedia in a huge overhaul of primary education. Computing skills will become as important as English and maths under plans about to be unveiled by the former schools inspector Sir Jim Rose. And teachers are expected to be given extra training to help them stay one step ahead of 'computer-savvy' students. Becta, the Government's technology agency, warned Sir Jim that if information and communication technology (ICT) is not built into the curriculum there is a risk that a 'digital underclass' will emerge. Becta chief executive Stephen Crowne said, 'Without an appropriate emphasis on technology from an early age there is the risk of a digital underclass developing, lacking opportunities for wide-ranging use of technology, which puts them at a disadvantage in a world where ICT surround us.

'The traditional core skills of reading and writing must always remain at the heart of primary teaching, but we must also recognise that there is a wealth of technology available today which, when used effectively and imaginatively, can complement the traditional skills and aid teaching.' The report is also expected to give more information on proposals to scrap individual subjects in place of six new 'areas of learning.' Shadow schools minister Nick Gibb said, 'Ministers need to make sure that the new primary curriculum is rigorous and protects proper subject teaching. The suggestion of merging proper history and geography lessons into vague humanities 'themed learning' would take primary education in the wrong direction.'

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