Computing teachers ‘still need more help’

Despite the government allocating another £1.1 million to help teachers prepare for the new computing curriculum, more money and other support is still needed, a campaigner has said.

The Department for Education (DfE) yesterday announced additional funding for BCS, the Chartered Institute of IT, to develop a computing readiness programme for primary school teachers with no prior experience of computer science. It has previously given the BCS £2 million to create a network of ‘master’ teachers to help train others to teach computer science.

Bob Harrison, an education consultant and former ICT teacher, welcomed the new investment, but said that the challenge was still “enormous”.

“It is really good news that primary teachers are going to benefit from the extra £1.1 million grant for extra CPD. This, along with the BCS Bursary scheme, the growth of the Computing at School (CAS) master teachers, publication of the Naace/CAS primary guide [for teaching computing], the many conferences, workshops and the Google site created by the DfE expert computing group, will really help to ensure we have an education workforce confident and capable of teaching the new computing curriculum,” he said.

“But there are over 20,000 schools, and the challenge is still enormous. This is a small, but welcome, step in the right direction, but frankly, much more is needed before September 2014.”

Harrison believes that teachers need “more time for CPD training, more sharing of resources, more support and more leadership”. This is in addition to more money.

On the same day as announcing funding for computing, the government allocated £11 million to boost maths teaching, following reports that rated the UK low in terms of achievement in subjects like maths compared with the rest of the world.

However, the changes in the computing curriculum are far greater than those in maths, Harrison said.

“As for £11 million for maths - words fail me,” he said. “The changes to ICT are seismic by comparison.”

BCS’s director of education, Bill Mitchell, said that the government could be providing less funding for computing because of the high level of free, volunteer support coming from public and private organisations, for example, through CAS.

Though he added: “I mean, it would be great to have the money as well, don’t get me wrong.”

Meanwhile, the BCS said that so far 80 teachers have been trained under the BCS’ master teachers network. Mitchell said that this was “bang on target”, as the organisation wanted to have the structure of universities and trained regional coordinators in place before starting recruiting the rest of the 400 master teachers planned after Christmas.

The new computing curriculum, which puts more focus on learning coding, comes into force in September 2014.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon