Software programming to become compulsory in schools

Software programming and advanced technology lessons are to form part of an overhauled school IT curriculum.

Education secretary Michael Gove will announce today, at the BETT education technology show, a scrapping of the traditional "dull" current IT curriculum, which he will say puts excessive focus on teaching Microsoft Word and Excel skills instead of more exciting programming.

The news follows a range of companies - including Google, Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Sega, Electronic Arts, Activision, Talk Talk and the Guardian Media Group - throwing their weight behind a government commissioned report, called Next Gen, that concluded there was a need to overhaul the curriculum.

A consultation is due to be launched next week, on how to implement a better computing curriculum, so that the future workforce is well equipped to deliver advanced technology change and a positive benefit to the economy.

Related:

Online resources that can help schools teach better IT are already online, Gove will say.

"Instead of children bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word or Excel by bored teachers," he will say, "we could have 11-year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations."

It is expected that older pupils will be taught to write simple code, as well as to create apps for smartphones.

But experts have voiced concerns at the potential lack of teachers qualified to teach such a curriculum. Bill Mitchell, of British Computing Society, told the BBC: "It is tremendous that Michael Gove is personally endorsing the importance of teaching computer science in schools. There are, of course, significant challenges to overcome, specifically with the immediate shortage of computer science teachers."