Coding in Schools

September 2014 sees the introduction of coding in schools as part of the curriculum

We love this BBC article on the Hour of Code – it captures so much about children (especially boys). Working through the exercises complements coding in schools and starts to make code something accessible to children, theirs for the taking, rather than a scary occupation reserved for those who’ve grown roots into their computer.

The Hour of Code

The Hour of Code is a US initiative aimed at imbuing children with an interest in coding, but it chimes in perfectly with the changes in the UK curriculum that will put programming to the forefront of ICT lessons and replace the “obsolete and boring” IT curriculum as it stands. This idea is not particularly new however – in 2011 the prospect of GCSE students writing programs was being unveiled by David Willetts. Since then, teaching children to code has become quite the thing, from books aimed at four year olds to global teaching groups such as CoderDojo and the home grown primary-aimed after-school Code Club.

Support for teaching – double-edged sword?

Coding in schools is still not compulsory though, we must wait til September for that, but it is appropriate that it makes its appearance during the Year of Code. The introduction of coding is being supported by two million pounds to create a core of Master Teachers, over a million pounds to Computing at School to support primary school teachers and a bursary to support candidates wanting to become computing teachers. This last should be viewed with caution, it must be said, because:

Scholarships of £25,000 – backed by Microsoft, Google, IBM and Facebook – are being offered to computer science teachers

Having finally disentangled itself from the clutches of simply teaching basics in proprietary skills, we can’t allow ICT teaching to become yoked to a different set of self-interested taskmasters. Do we really want to see Microsoft quoted on the government’s own website?:

We’re already helping teachers in a variety of ways. From the brand new “Switched On Computing” teaching materials through to our teacher training roadshow. I am confident that through this combination of funding, materials and activities, teachers will be hitting the ground running come September.

Furthermore, Codecademy warned in December 2013

“that a large number of English schools “have not even started thinking” about the major change to the curriculum.”

However, if we get this right

CAS and Codecademy said the changes will make England “the educational envy of almost every other country in the world”.

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