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Raspberry Pi, Microsoft and Adobe back draft computing curriculum but teachers sceptical

14 Feb 2013
school-students-technology-gcse-computer

The government has overhauled the current ICT curriculum in schools, last week publishing a fully revised draft alternative for a three month national consultation.

The draft proposes renaming the curriculum ‘computing' to include a broad focus on computer science skills.

The current ICT curriculum for five to 16-year-olds was dis-applied in schools last September for being irrelevant and boring. The Department for Education (DfE) will launch the new curriculum in September 2014.

V3 has spoken to key members of the education sector, as part of our Make IT Better campaign, to find out their initial thoughts on the draft computing curriculum, including the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Microsoft, Adobe, CA Technologies and Salesforce.

thumbs down Joanna Poplawska, performance director for the Corporate IT Forum Education and Skills Commission

The Corporate IT Forum performance director Joanna Poplawksa

Our initial reaction to the proposed curriculum is that it is not going to provide the skills that are needed for business. In our Early Years report published in January we recommended that IT should be taught to all children.

However, it appears that digital literacy and programming have been given priority over IT, despite the subject being critical for British industries.

The Commission would like to see a curriculum that gives young people the ability to work on technology solutions that can be applied to business rather than just technology products.

thumb upSteve Beswick, director of education at Microsoft UK

Microsoft Education Director Steve Beswick

We are really pleased that the government recognises the importance of embedding computer science more deeply into the UK national curriculum.

What we need now is rigorous training for our teachers, to ensure that they are more than capable of teaching computer science and can help to inspire bright young people to take the subject to a higher level. There are currently 100,000 unfilled jobs in the UK that require computer science skills, and we desperately need to develop a generation of computer scientists to fill this gap and ensure the UK remains economically competitive.

thumb upEben Upton, Raspberry Pi Foundation executive director

raspberry-pi-foundation-executive-director-eben-upton

By and large I'm very impressed with what I've seen. The language is very forthright, and makes it explicit that even young children are expected to be able to design and reason about algorithms; in a very real sense we'd be teaching "computational thinking", which we feel is an important skill regardless of whether a young person chooses to pursue a computing career.

For those of us who care about getting kids to learn programming, rather than things like Office use, things are looking really good. The key will be to prevent these proposals from being watered down in the final draft - I'm still amazed that there's a lobby for more of the same old productivity software training that's been boring kids rigid for a decade.

My personal view is that e-safety is a matter primarily for parents, and that the government should focus on supporting and educating them.

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