Under the new Computer Science initiative announced by Michael Gove, children from the age of 5 will be taught the basics of computer science. As Elizabeth Truss (education minister) said “We want a generation of children being taught how to write computer animations or design apps for smartphones – not be bored by lessons in how to fill in spreadsheets or learn word processing.”
As a university computing department we welcome this move to deliver traditional computing skills in schools. We have for too long been taking students who have apparently studied IT but have never written a line of code. Instead they have actually been using IT for business related activities.
Unfortunately this money is to be used over the next two years but schools are already moving to the new computing curriculum.
Recent Department for Education figures show that over 50% of teachers delivering ICT have no relevant qualification above A level. This means that around 9,200 teachers currently delivering ICT need to undertake some level of professional development in order to be ready to deliver the new curriculum.
It is imperative that schools take on board the necessity to ensure that the subject is taught by appropriately qualified staff if we are to provide the next generation of experts with the necessary skills. It is at school where the students interests in subjects are fostered and ensuring that they are inspired is essential if the UK is to remain at the forefront of the Computing industry.
The UK has a rich history in the technological field and in particular computing and in order to ensure this continues into the future we need to provide the best educators who not only have the relevant knowledge but are able to inspire and enthuse.
Universities have a key role to play here by providing the necessary support and sharing their expertise with teachers in the local community. As the computing school at Birmingham City University we are currently reviewing how we can best provide this support to our local community to ensure our students of the future are properly equipped.
The fundamental question however, is that with around 9,200 staff to be trained and £2 million pounds of funding available (£217 per person), will that be enough?