Most schools will struggle with teaching computer science

Education Secretary Michael Gove has finally announced that computer sciences will be introduced back into the curriculum, though the ability of schools to actually teach the subject has drawn criticism.

Following a long campaign to reintroduce computer sciences, Gove announced a massive overhaul of the way IT will be taught in schools, scrapping ICT in its current form.

In his speech, Gove recalled the work of mathmatician and computer scientist Alan Turing, catching up on the harsh criticism laid out by Google CEO Eric Schmidt last year which condemned the UK’s creative decline in the industry.

Since then there have been many calls to shake up the curriculum and encourage programming for creating, rather than to use and consume, software. That had been the case with the outdated ICT programme over many years.

Game developer David Braben has been vocal about making changes with his RaspberryPi USB computer to aid teaching in classrooms. Other Ministers throughout government have put an emphasis on the importance of computer sciences, with Ed Vaizey highlighting the need for a ‘Dr Cox effect’ to reignite interest in the subject.

The decision has been welcomed in the industry, but the ability to actually put a working programme back into classrooms for all pupils has drawn heavy fire.

According to Bill Mitchell at the British Computing Society, there is a “critical shortage” of teachers able to teach this long overdue subject. He claims the majority of schools will struggle “massively” to implement it.

“The challenge we have is a critical shortage of teachers who can effectively teach computer sciences in the classroom,” Mitchell said, speaking to TechEye. “There are around a third of schools which have been labelled to be high quality ‘outstanding’ schools in the country by Ofsted, and these will be able to cope with the demands of the computer science curriculum. But what about the other two thirds?”

Mitchell says that the government has taken a careful approach with its commitments. “Schools have the freedom to choose to teach computer sciences if they wish to,” Mitchell says, “however, I suspect that the two thirds of schools outside the top category will be put off.  If they are already struggling to deliver the rest of the curriculum then they will massively struggle with teaching computer sciences.”

According to Mitchell the decision to actually put the subject back into schools has been long overdue, with successive governments failing to pick up on the benefits.

“It’s absolutely shocking that computer science is not being taught on the curriculum considering the history in the country for development,” he told TechEye. “As Eric Scmidt said ‘Why are you not teaching this in schools?’”