UKForCE will bring together representatives from education, computer science, digital media, IT, engineering and telecommunications

Computing education body set up to advise Government

A new expert body on computing education designed to provide independent advice to the UK government has been established.

The UK Forum for Computing Education (UKForCE) will be led by the Royal Academy of Engineering and will provide advice on the curriculum, qualifications and assessment and the supply and training of computing teachers.

The move comes in response to the recommendation from a Royal Society report on computing in schools published in 2012, which recommended the formation of a forum for the UK’s computing bodies.

The body will bring together representatives from education, computer science, digital media, IT, engineering and telecommunications and will be independent of government and awarding organisations.

Chris Mairs, chair of UKForCE and chief scientist at Metaswitch Networks, said: “The new computing curriculum, which comes into effect in September 2014, is a most welcome step change in computing education. There are many amazing initiatives springing up to build upon this bold move both inside and outside the classroom.

“UKForCE will be the connective tissue between all these initiatives, central government and other relevant bodies. With a coherent voice and government commitment, our children will be the world’s most savvy digital citizens and a tremendous asset to the UK economy.

“As well as providing a springboard for great software engineers and computing specialists, effective delivery of the new curriculum can literally improve the life chances of an entire generation. UKForCE will help make this happen.”

Simon Peyton Jones, principal researcher at Microsoft Research, chair of Computing at School (CAS) and member of the UKForCE steering group said he hopes the changes could soon result in another Alan Turing emerging from a UK school.

“In too many schools, computing has been reduced to teaching how to use basic software packages and word-processing,” he said.

“As the Royal Society’s report suggest, we need to ‘restart’ the way it is taught and bring back passion and rigour to it.  We need to generate the same enthusiasm for computing that the BBC Micro brought about in the 80s and that got so many people into programming and brought the UK to the forefront of computer science.”

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