Information technology and the a-level curriculum: a core skill or a fringe benefit?

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The recent proposals to include information technology (IT) as a compulsory ‘key skill’ element throughout all areas of the 16-19 curriculum would seem to herald the end ofthe largely ‘computer-free’ A-level curriculum. Yet, the appropriateness of this impositionhas largely been taken for granted by policy-makers and educationalists alike. In an attemptto pre-empt the imposition of compulsory IT use at A level, this paper uses qualitativedata from 96 students and 29 teaching staff, in both school-based sixth forms and furthereducation colleges, to explore the current role of IT in the A-level curriculum. From thisbasis, current attempts at an institutional level to provide an IT element for all A-levelstudents are also examined. As the interview data reveal, many teachers and students seeIT as a superfluous to the ‘real’ objectives of taking A levels and are largely hostile or, atbest, indifferent to using IT. In the light of these findings, the place of IT as a core skill inthe A-level curriculum is reassessed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-137
Number of pages15
JournalResearch Papers in Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • A level
  • Computers
  • Core skills
  • Information and communications technology (ICT)
  • Key skills
  • Post-16 education

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