As with all ambitious plans, focus on the Department for Education's sweeping IT teaching reform have turned from "what" to "how". There are certainly a lot of loose ends still to be tied up, not least how to actually train teachers to teach computing well.
There is a school of thought that says big businesses can and should help out with this. After all, it's in their interests for there to be more skilled employees to choose from.
MyKindaCrowd, a social enterprise firm, seems to be doing just this. It markets itself as bringing big businesses closer to school pupils through the use of branded educational challenges, many of which result in the cream of the crop of pupils winning placements. The group already works with brands including McDonald's, Tesco and Cisco on other areas of the curriculum.
Will Akerman, managing director of MyKindaCrowd, told V3 that businesses could do more to invest in their future employees if they begin when they are at a younger age. "We're not a lobbying organisation," he began. "Our mission is to connect young people to the world of work." For example, the firm currently works with UK gaming startup Mind Candy to produce a Moshi Monsters coding course, bringing a brand that's recognisable to kids into the classroom in order to teach lessons that have relevance in the wider computing industry.
It's not just about the businesses working within the IT services industry, either: it's every single business that uses computers. We'd hazard a guess that this means most of them. "Every company can take an active part to support. It might be as simple as mentoring teachers to help them get a better understanding of computing in general, or it could be work experience," Akerman said. "There are small actions which can make a difference."
This is particularly pertinent as some of the new computing curriculum's biggest detractors have cited a lack of relevance to "every day" computing. For instance, the Corporate IT Forum told V3 in July it would like to see more focus on skills that will make employees better IT users, not just programmers.
This is where a big business could come in and create a mini-curriculum in the form of challenges that would suit their own needs and find talent early on.
Akerman added that it's not just about finding the best of the best; he claims it's the pupils with the best attitudes who tend to earn work placements and job offers. "There are many jobs where the best candidates aren't those with five A stars or 10 A stars. They've demonstrated that they've got that passion and drive, not that they've got the academic achievement. That they want to further themselves is far more important."
Could we see phrases such as: "This morning's computing lesson is brought to you by the McChicken Sandwich"? It's unlikely, but some forward thinking from the UK's most influential employers could go a long way.
By V3's Michael Passingham, whose IT education was lacklustre at best
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