• Richard Millwood Trinity College Dublin, IE
  • Elizabeth Oldham Trinity College Dublin, IE


This keynote describes the recent developments in computing in schools in England and the Republic of Ireland, in the light of a historical account of educational computing since its early days in the 1970s. In England, the recent (2014) introduction of a ‘rigorous’ computing curriculum was justified by UK politicians to address a digital skills crisis, and, at the same time, the English Information and Communication Technology (ICT) curriculum and examinations were set to be discontinued. Figures from 2015 show that only 28% of schools entered pupils for the new General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) in computing (for pupils aged about 16) and only 24% at Advanced Level (for pupils aged about 18). This means that no course leading to a qualification in computing is actually being offered in three quarters of all schools, and makes the opportunity for learning about computing very slight once the ICT qualifications are gone. This is because the new computing qualifications will demand greater knowledge from teachers who are rarely Computer Science graduates. The outcome may mean a less well educated population in terms of both vocational capability and personal fulfilment. Ireland has had no single equivalent of the English ICT curriculum.  Uptake of technology-related subjects has been rather low and heavily gendered towards males, while programming activities in recent years have taken place chiefly outside the mainstream curriculum.  Current developments include a new Leaving Certificate Computer Science qualification (for pupils aged about 18), to be available from September 2018; the draft curriculum has now been published for consultation. The strategies in the two countries will be contrasted and critiqued in view of their historical context and their current approaches