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Digital Technology: Education

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL3416, tabled on 25 October 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to make the teaching of digital skills mandatory.

Answered on

1 November 2021

The government recognises the critical importance of digital skills in everyday life and for the wider economy. A new computing curriculum was introduced to schools in England in September 2014. This replaced Information and Communications Technology (ICT), due to widespread views that it was outdated and failed to equip young people with the knowledge and skills they needed.

The new computing curriculum is designed to ensure that all pupils learn the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science, can analyse problems in computational terms, have experience of writing computer programs, can evaluate and apply information technology (including new or unfamiliar technologies), and are responsible, competent and creative users of ICT. This computing curriculum is compulsory for all state-maintained schools, and free schools and academies can use it as an exemplar.

The acquisition of digital skills in the school space is supported by the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE), backed by a government investment of £84 million. The NCCE has created 500 hours of free, high quality teacher resources, which include cyber security, digital literacy and data science.

From August 2020, the department introduced a new digital entitlement for adults with no or low-level digital skills to undertake digital qualifications, up to level 1, free of charge. Digital skills qualifications funded under the digital entitlement are based on national standards that set out the digital skills people need to get on in life and work. The department has committed to making essential digital skills training more accessible and flexible, building on the innovation in online learning implemented during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The department also supports the provision of basic digital skills training for adults in community settings through the adult education budget.

We are investing £500 million in the implementation of the new T Levels, and to help individuals enhance their digital skills, there are three available under the digital route. All T Level programmes include digital skills that are relevant to the occupations in question, giving employers the confidence that graduates have the level of proficiency needed for employment.

The department is also taking forward an ambitious programme of further education reform through the Further Education White Paper. It is clear digital skills will be a major area of focus.