Government abolishes Technology Policy Unit

The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed that the unit charged with developing the technology in schools policy will no longer exist after April.

The move is a sign of the government not taking ICT education seriously, said Kevin Brennan, Labour's shadow schools minister.

"It is no good announcing a major overhaul of the ICT curriculum and then sacking the team responsible for implementing it," he said.

"In January, [education minister] Michael Gove promised a new approach to technology policy, with support from the government. This news signals their true intentions."

He added: "This government has already closed down Becta, the body responsible for spreading good practice in the use of ICT in education. Michael Gove seems intent on promoting an analogue curriculum in a digital age."

However, the DfE said that despite abolishing the Technology Policy Unit, the department will still keep a watching brief on technology in schools. It said that a separate national curriculum review team at the DfE will take over on the ICT curriculum reform consultation that Gove announced, from April.

"We are fully committed to the importance of technology in education and are still taking forward activities to support this," a DfE spokesperson said.

"Ministers have made clear it is not the role of government to interfere in what schools do with ICT, hence this change. Excellent developments such as Raspberry Pi and Computing at School have taken off in schools precisely because government has stepped back and let the experts take the lead."

The Technology Policy Unit was led by Vanessa Pittard, who joined from Becta, where she was director of e-strategy for four years. According to her LinkedIn profile, she has only been leading the unit for just over a year, since March 2011.

According to, Pittard will be moving to cover STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) at the DfE, and her four other team members will be redeployed elsewhere.


Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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