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Make IT Better: IT teaching problems run deeper than Word and Excel, claims Microsoft

22 Nov 2012

Microsoft Education Director Steve BeswickMicrosoft director of education, Steve Beswick, believes computer science needs to be made a more stimulating course for school pupils from a very young age.

According to Beswick, Microsoft and its 34,000 partners in the UK are finding that there are few people in the IT industry who really understand technology.

"We employ around 2,000 people so it's a smallish community but we have thousands of partners employing 400,000 people. We talk to them about the problems they face and one of the main things is that there is a shortage of people who understand IT really, really well," Beswick told V3.

"The number of computer science graduates is less than half of what it was in 2000. The key thing is for schools to make kids start learning early. Computer science needs to be regarded as a fourth science. So in primary school, when teaching generic science, teachers need to think about building in an understanding of computers at that age."

MAKE IT BETTER logoV3 was speaking to Beswick as part of its Make IT Better campaign, which is calling on the Department for Education (DfE) to give the ICT curriculum reform process transparency and to include the views of more teachers, education advisers and IT professionals from the start.

V3 has become increasingly concerned that current measures being taken to overhaul the IT curriculum and GCSE syllabus will not lead to young people being taught the technology skills needed by the IT industry.

Beswick said it's a matter of using the right tools and techniques to get primary school children interested in a computer science education.

One Microsoft technology Beswick mentioned was that of Kodu, a programming language, designed to be accessible for children, specifically for creating games.

"It's a tool that can be taught to eight-year-olds to get them interested in computer science. They can create an avatar and do things like pick up gold from trees," said Beswick.

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Rosalie Marshall

Rosalie Marshall is the special projects editor and chief reporter at V3. Previously she was a reporter for IT Week and channel editor for online television site Rosalie covers government IT, business applications, IT skills, open source technology and social networks.

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