Microsoft To Prepare 160,000 Teachers For The New Curriculum

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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The Switched On Computing initiative offers instructions in areas including “computational thinking”

Microsoft will provide free study materials to around 160,000 primary teachers as part of the “First Class Computing” initiative.

Training will be given as the schools in the UK prepare for the introduction of the new curriculum in September 2014 that will place a lot more emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects.

Computer Science is at the core of the re-designed syllabus, and pupils as young as five will be taught how to create and debug simple programs.

Learn to code?

Later this year, Computing will be introduced to primary schools as a subject for the very first time. The new programme will challenge both schoolchildren and their teachers, since this approach has never been tested.

MSAccording to Education Today, material developed in partnership between Microsoft and educational publisher Rising Stars is intended to help teachers get to grips with the new Programme of Study that features modules on programming, networks, communication and computational thinking.

Switched On Computing includes a free 51-page booklet with teaching materials and a CD with additional resources. Microsoft is also planning to launch a series of regional teacher training roadshows in the coming months.

“We welcomed the news of the new Computing curriculum alongside others in the industry because it is absolutely critical for the future success of our young people. The challenge now is to ensure that primary teachers are equipped to deliver it by September,” Steve Beswick, senior director of Education at Microsoft UK told Education Today.

Microsoft is often accused of lowering educational standards by showing the students how to use its software products without teaching them the underlying principles. Switched On Computing promises to “cover [the] first steps with Microsoft applications”, including instructions on PowerPoint, Skype, Movie Maker and Bing Maps.

At the same time, the company does spend a part of its budget on classroom equipment, and also runs initiatives like the annual Imagine Cup. Later this week, Microsoft will launch the second annual Koda Cup – a coding competition for students aged between seven and 14. A week later, the company will begin offering discounted Xbox 360 consoles to young game developers as part of DreamSpark, Mcirosoft’s initiative aimed at high school students.

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