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Government supports Livingstone Hope education plans

Luke Stratford November 28, 2011 - 8:38 pm

In a very busy few days, the UK Coalition Government has been giving thought to the groundbreaking Livingstone Hope review.

In a move that could see millions of children being brought up with a higher grade of IT proficience, a government review of the Livingstone Hope campaign, founded by Eidos life President Ian Livingstone, has been met with some, if not total, support.

The campaign, comprised of 20 key suggestions for educational reform, would address the lack of educational tools for IT development in schools, which Livingstone earlier described as threatening to create a generation of ‘digital illiterates’, as he went on to explain to The Independent:

‘The National Curriculum requires schools to teach not computer science but ICT – a strange hybrid of desktop-publishing lessons and Microsoft tutorials. Computer science is different. It is a vital, analytical discipline, and a system of logical thinking that is as relevant to the modern world as physics, chemistry or biology.’ He went on to explain that it was this current malaise that was already being felt today, as the lack of qualified graduates at professional levels was ‘starving some of the UK’s most successful industries of the talent they need to thrive’, leading to a £2 billion market that will, if current reands continue, lack the manpower to sustain itself.

Today, responding to the review, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport issued a statement broadly supporting the initiatives outlined, but remained generally in favour of individual institutions taking responsibility for their participation:

‘We are acutely aware that skills development is a crucial issue for the sectors if we are to build on their reputation and exploit the growing market opportunities. Next Gen sets out some compelling ideas for how the UK can be transformed into a world leader in video games and VFX.’

‘The Government will not prescribe what schools should do. As part of providing independent, impartial advice about options, schools may choose to bring in external careers professionals either for particular pupils or at particular stages, but this should be for the school to decide.’

Despite the statement not coming from the department that would have been ideal to handle the suggestions made by the review, the Department for Education, Ian Livingstone was encouraged the the response, going so far as to state that the response was a ‘quantum shift‘ in its thinking. Although setting nothing in stone, it’s an encouraging move on the part of the government to acknowledge the issue, if not to make any direct action. As Livingstone puts it, ‘the Government has woken up’:

‘Now we’ve made enough noise for [the Department for Education] and [the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills] to take notice. we expect future negotiation to be with the DfE.’

‘The fact the DfE haven’t been engaged previously, shows that the DfE is a large, unwieldy instrument – but it’s finally percolating through, the importance of what we’re saying.’

Slowly, little by little, the Government is taking notice of the elephant in the room. With industry powerhouse such as Facebook, Microsoft and Google in support of the review, there’s no doubt that these are changes that the industry needs – as a representative from Google puts it:

‘A lot of the conclusions [of the Livingstone-Hope review] are massively relevant to us. Computer science is at the core of everything we do. We’re massively supportive of the report.’

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