Government announce plans to improve children’s technology skills

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In an announcement this morning the Prime Minister, David Cameron, pledged to help students in England gain technology skills.

As part of this drive Cameron announced the establishment of a National College for Digital Skills, a GCSE in Computer Science and investments for the recruitment of 2,500 new maths and physics teachers in addition to retraining 15,000 existing teachers.

This has followed the introduction of coding lessons for children five-years and up, which were brought into the curriculum in England this September. Although the move was largely celebrated by campaigners, many teachers were left nervous and unprepared.

The BBC asked teachers to get in touch on Twitter to find out how the new coding lessons were going in its first term. “As a primary computing advisory teacher think it is quite overwhelming for many,” said one “I spend much time demystifying.” Another said: “General feeling is not enough time, or money for resources.” “Those with a good understanding of computing are doing well, those without are struggling,” said a third.

While the introduction of the new curriculum has had some teething problem, the BBC found a general consensus that the lessons were proving easier to introduce at lower schools than at a secondary level. A view that has been backed up by research conducted by Adrian Mee from the Institute of Education.

Adrian Mee surveyed 162 secondary schools to discover what computing based educational opportunities they were offering students entering Year 10. In 18% of the schools surveyed no pupils entered a GCSE for a computing qualification, additionally, in a further 50% of schools less than 20% of students enrolled.

The survey indicated on some trends, Mee believes that there is a shortage of specialist teachers, which could contribute to why schools are not doing more to promote computing subjects. He also believes that due to limited resources and exam league tables schools only push students with good maths skills towards computing subjects.

Mee said that this could lead to a polarisation “between a few children who will get a really solid grounding in computer science – and that is very positive for the country – and others who will get little or nothing at all, and that will be bad for industry.”

However, such worries are likely to be short-lived. With the promotion of digital skills now being delivered to primary school students, they will arrive at a secondary level with a good computing grounding, in addition to the Government putting the new GCSE in computing science as an attractive option for all.

Source: BBC News

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