Funding announced to help teachers prepare for new computing curriculum

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced £1.1 million of funding for the British Computer Society (BCS) to help teachers prepare for the new computing curriculum, which will be taught in schools from September 2014.

BCS will develop a computing readiness programme aimed specifically at primary school teachers with no prior experience of computer science.

Education minister Elizabeth Truss said: “We want children to be enthused by the possibilities of computing - writing programs for computer games or designing apps for smartphones.

“The new curriculum will do that and this funding will mean that primary school teachers - even those with little or no experience in teaching computing - will be able to deliver it.”

The new curriculum covers Key Stages 1 through to 4, which is for children aged between five and 16, and has been designed to have computer science theory as its foundation. It will replace the current ICT curriculum, which focuses more on the use, rather than the creation, of computer programs, such as Microsoft Word and Excel.

However, there have been warnings from the industry that teachers are unprepared for the shift. Leng Lee, head of operations at Codecademy, a free web-based platform that children can use to learn how to make mobile/web apps, recently said: “To get teachers in schools ready and with the resources they need is obviously going to be very difficult.

“Right now it’s December so we’re nine months away from the rollout. I’d say the majority of schools haven’t even started thinking about it to be honest.”

Under the new syllabus, children from the age of five will be taught what algorithms are and how they are used in digital devices – they will also learn how to write and test simple programs and to organise, manipulate and store digital content.

From age seven they will also be taught to understand computer networks, including the internet, and how they can provide a range of services.

BCS will begin using the funding immediately to provide online resources, in-school workshops, outreach activities and create local groups within the Network of Teaching Excellence in Computer Science – a network of 400 ‘master teachers’ who will lead professional development in their local areas in partnership with employers, universities and professional bodies.

It is hoped that this programme will reach at least 20,000 teachers.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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