Feeds

Schoolkids learn coding at GCSE level in curriculum trial

'Basic skill for 21st century human beings' - Willetts

The essential guide to IT transformation

Teenagers could be taught to write their own software programs at GCSE as part of a major overhaul of the UK schools' IT curriculum.

The new approach is being trialled with 100 students in a two-term experiment that will be rolled out across the UK if it proves successful.

Launching the “Behind the Screen” scheme, science minister David Willetts told the British Science Festival in Bradford yesterday that the idea has been in development since 2010.

Willetts said: "[It] will transform the IT curriculum away from computer literacy, which we believe many young people can do earlier, towards instead how they develop software and computational principles; how they can create their own programs."

The schools chosen are Manchester Grammar, Bradfield College, Reading, Park House School, Newbury, and Townley Grammar in Bexleyheath, Kent.

The British IT curriculum has been criticised for just teaching students to use software, rather than letting them make it. Google CEO Eric Schmidt has been one of its most notable recent critics, at the McTaggart lecture in Edinburgh last month:

"I was flabbergasted to learn that today computer science isn't even taught as a standard in UK schools. Your IT curriculum focuses on teaching how to use software, but gives no insight into how it's made. That is just throwing away your great computer heritage."

He told the TV execs gathered in Edinburgh: "Over the past century the UK has stopped nurturing its polymaths. There's been a drift to the humanities ... engineering and science aren't championed.

"In the 1980s the BBC not only broadcast programming for kids about coding, but (in partnership with Acorn) shipped over a million BBC Micro computers into homes and schools. That was a fabulous initiative, but it's long gone."

Take-up of IT qualifications has fallen in the past five years: a staggering 57 per cent decline between 2005 and 2010.

Willetts said programming would become one of the 21st century's most important skills:

"I want to see the ability to create software, to write programmes, that is one of the key functional skills for the 21st century, and young people going through school, college and university should have the opportunity to generate those skills." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Time to move away from Windows 7 ... whoa, whoa, who said anything about Windows 8?
Start migrating now to avoid another XPocalypse – Gartner
You'll find Yoda at the back of every IT conference
The piss always taking is he. Bastard the.
HANA has SAP cuddling up to 'smaller partners'
Wanted: algorithm wranglers, not systems giants
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.