Computer science lessons get help from industry experts.

Industry experts help with new computer science courses

Industry experts, including Facebook, Microsoft and IBM, are helping improve computer science lessons in schools.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has announced that current information and communications technology (ICT) teacher training courses will be replaced by new computer science courses.

The new computer science courses, to be introduced from September 2013, will be designed with help from top technology firms like Facebook, Microsoft and IBM.

The government also set out plans today to boost the teaching of computer science, with the introduction of a £20,000 scholarship programme to entice top graduates into a career in teaching.

The scholarship has been set up with BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT and with support from industry experts. Around 50 scholarships worth £20,000 each will be available in the first year.

Existing ICT teachers will also be trained as experts in computer science.

Industry experts and education professionals have set out the requirements for the subject knowledge and attributes all new computer science teachers should have before they start their training. This includes being able to demonstrate an understanding of key computer science concepts and approaches such as algorithms, data representation and logic.

The government said the announcements were part of its drive to recruit and train a new cadre of teachers with the expertise and enthusiasm to drive improvement in the quality of computer science teaching in schools.

A recent Royal Society report looking at computing education in UK schools found teaching was ‘highly unsatisfactory’. It said that many pupils were not inspired by what they were being taught and gained nothing beyond basic digital literacy skills such as how to use a word processor or a database.

Gove said: “Computer Science is not just a rigorous, fascinating and intellectually challenging subject. It is also vital to our success in the global race.

“If we want our country to produce the next Sir Tim Berners-Lee – creator of the Web – we need the very best Computer Science teachers in our classrooms. They need to have the right skills and deep subject knowledge to help their pupils.”

Bill Mitchell, director of BCS Academy of Computing, said: “The UK needs far more technology creators and entrepreneurs if we are to stay competitive in the global economy. That means students need to be taught not just how software and hardware works, but also how to create new digital technology for themselves.

“The best way to do that is to have outstanding computer science teachers in as many schools as possible, which is why these new initiatives are so important.”

Stephen Twigg MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary said: “Michael Gove has developed an analog curriculum in a digital age. His outdated EBacc places no value on subjects such as computing. If we are to remain competitive, we need to instigate a Computer Science revolution, starting with getting primary school children to learn coding." 

Further information:

Find out more about the BCS scholarship in computer science.

Read the Royal Society’s report on the computer education.

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