Curriculum under review for computer science in schools

Government Minister David Willets has responded to calls to promote computer sciences with a trial which will focus on teaching programming skills.

Willetts responded to calls from Google‘s Eric Schmidt to start teaching programming skills to kids in the UK.  Last month Schmidt lashed out at the government about students learning how to use programs rather than creating them.

Another Minister at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Ed Vaizey, has also spoken out about the need for more support for computer sciences.  TechEye also spoke to programmer David Braben, of Elite fame, who made fresh calls for changes to the curriculum to support teaching creation rather than consumption of software.

Now the ‘Behind the Screens’ initiative will trial in schools across England with the aim of encouraging children to develop software and computational principles.

Willetts also said that he wants to see 21st century skills in school, and that includes writing programs.

In terms of a wider roll out of computer science subjects, the Department for Education told TechEye a curriculum review is currently looking at ways to incorporate ICT on a wider scale.

“The National Curriculum is currently being reviewed,” a spokesperson told us. “As part of this process we had a call for evidence to which all stakeholders were invited to make submissions.  These are currently being analysed.” 

“The Review will consider whether all other subjects (currently part of the National Curriculum) should remain so and design statutory/non statutory programmes of study for each subject to be taught in maintained schools from September 2014; both ICT and Computer Science are being reviewed as part of this process.”

“ICT evolves at a rate far faster than any curriculum can – that’s why we are stripping the curriculum back to core knowledge, allowing schools greater flexibility to adapt the subjects to the needs of the their pupils.”

The curriculum review has also involved meeting with the members of the ‘computing community’:

“Throughout the National Curriculum Review process Ministers and officials from the Department have had several meetings with representatives of the computing community,” the spokesperson said, “including Microsoft, BCS (The Chartered Institute for IT) and Computing for Schools to discuss the potential benefits of developing Computer Science as a subject, underlining its importance to the Government.”