School pupils in England are missing out on the opportunity to stury Computer Science at GCSE because their schools don't have the staff to teach it.
That's according to a report out this week by the Royal Society. It is calling on the government to do more to ensure pupils are able to learn important skills such as programming and computer algorithms, alongside traditional subjects, like Maths and English.
England is only meeting 68 per cent of its recruitment targets for computing teacher training courses, which is even lower than Physics and Classics
The report highlights the fact that the government needs to spend at least £60m in computing education over the next five years in order to close the digital skills gap.
Fifty-four per cent of English schools don't currently offer Computer Science as a GCSE subject, and only 175,000 pupils in the country are currently studying the subject.
Bournemouth is the town with the highest uptake of Computer Science pupils pupils (23 per cent), followed by Kensington & Chelsea (five per cent), Blackburn (five per cent) and the City of London (four per cent).
England is only meeting 68 per cent of its recruitment targets for computing teacher training courses, which is even lower than Physics and Classics. And only one-in-five Computer Science pupils are female.
Professor Steve Furber said: "The rate at which technology is transforming the workplace means that we live in a world where many primary schoolchildren will work in technology-based roles that do not yet exist, so it is essential that future generations can apply digital skills with confidence.
"For pupils to thrive, we need knowledgeable, highly skilled teachers. However, computing teachers have told us that they feel the government rushed in a new curriculum without giving them the support or money to deliver it."
He added: "The report paints a bleak picture in England, which meets only 68 per cent of its computing teacher recruitment targets and where, as a result, one-in-two schools don't offer Computer Science at GCSE, a crucial stage of young people's education.
"Overhauling the fragile state of our computing education will require an ambitious, multi-pronged approach. We need the government to invest significantly more to support and train 8,000 secondary school computing teachers to ensure pupils have the skills and knowledge needed for the future."
Teachers have told us that they feel the government rushed in a new curriculum without giving them the support or money to deliver it
Dale Peters, an analyst at TechMarketView, commented: "Teachers are being asked to teach an unfamiliar subject and there are too few teachers with the requisite skills to teach the curriculum.
"The government only reached 68 per cent of its recruitment target for computing teachers in 2016-17. We know that computer science skills are in high demand in industry, so its unsurprising that far fewer Computer Science graduates choose to enter teaching than in other subjects, but it's not sustainable.
"Computer Science remains an overwhelmingly male-dominated subject and workforce — at GCSE, just 20 per cent of pupils taking computing are female.
"As we have discussed before, if we are to meet the current and future skills requirements we need to achieve a better gender balance in the subject. Industry must do all it can to address this issue and improve computing education in the UK."
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