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Teachers panicking over new computing curriculum

Raspberry Pi, IBM and teachers want more government support
Thu Feb 27 2014, 10:10

THE UK DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION (DfE) should be doing more to prepare schools for the recently adopted computing curriculum, according to teachers and industry leaders, who say there's growing panic about the shift to coding.

The new curriculum, which will be mandatory for primary and secondary school students in the UK from September this year, includes complex topics such as algorithms and programming languages.

The inclusion of these topics in particular has led to widespread concerns that teachers and schools will not have time to prepare before the new curriculum comes into force.

Speaking at the Westminster Education Forum in London, Mark Wakefield, manager of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs at IBM UK, spoke of the "rising tide of panic" among primary school teachers around the new teaching requirements, and he urged the government to give the industry time to set up a consistent support structure for teachers.

"Now we've got a structure, now we've got a curriculum, please give us time to actually bed this down, get it sorted out, get the support structures and let it work," he said.

Raspberry Pi director of Educational Development Clive Beale questioned whether the DfE is doing enough. He said, "I'm really worried it hasn't been taken seriously enough."

He asked, "Has the government taken it seriously enough and put enough resources into supporting the teachers?"

John Myers, head of the Standards Division for the DfE, rebuffed Beale's questions, claiming that the DfE is "absolutely taking it seriously".

"It's not just government, there's lots of great support from organisations who teach computing that can be taken advantage of. I'm sure when I talk to schools and headteachers about computing, there's a great deal of excitement. Looking forward to the new curriculum, they recognise there is support out them for them to help."

Myers cited free websites to help teachers prepare, and highlighted the government's various funding initiatives to get teachers ready.

However, Paul Neale, head of computing at Theale Green school in Berkshire, questioned how effective it is to send schools to websites to find resources that will inevitably vary in quality.

"That's taking the teachers' time to see what's good. It needs a co-ordination role," he insisted. Myers didn't respond to this suggestion. µ


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