UK Government Launches The Year Of Code Education Campaign

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George Osborne and Michael Gove announce a £500,000 teacher IT training fund

The UK government has launched a campaign that aims to improve computer literacy of both teachers and students ahead of the introduction of the new school curriculum in September, which will place a lot more emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects.

The Year of Code, announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Education Secretary Michael Gove, will include educational events across the country that promote computing.

The government has also created a £500,000 fund that will be spent on training teachers in software development, in hopes of eventually establishing technology businesses as a backbone of the UK economy.

“The UK has a proud computing history but with more and more industries wanting computer scientists, coding has never been in more demand. It’s great that teachers will be trained with the skills they need to teach children from a young age and hopefully inspire the next generation of developers and programmers,” commented Mike Warriner, UK engineering director at Google.

Knowledge is power

Later this year, computing will be introduced to primary schools as a subject for the very first time, with pupils as young as five taught how to create and debug simple programs. The new curriculum promises to challenge both children and their teachers, since this approach has never been tested.

Oksana KuzminaAccording to research by YouGov published today, the majority of adults believe that computer coding is a vital skill in the current job market, and 94 percent consider general IT skills as important in the workplace as literacy and numeracy. In contrast, only 62 percent of parents across the UK think it is important to know a foreign language.

“Computer coding is the lingua franca of the global technology economy,” said Rohan Silva, chairman of Year of Code and former technology adviser to David Cameron. “If the UK is to remain at the vanguard of innovation worldwide, we need to ensure that our workforce is equipped with the skills of the 21st century, not of the past. Year of Code is all about making sure this vital change takes place – and fast.”

As part of the campaign, a series of events across the UK will introduce children and their teachers to the art of code. The Year of Code will also include a week-long programme in March encouraging all schools to teach every pupil at least one hour of coding.

The government has also promised to match £500,000 worth of funding provided by technology organisations on training teachers to deliver the new curriculum.

So far, the UK has spent more than £2 million to help BCS set up a network of 400 ‘Master Teachers’ that will train education professionals in other schools and provide resources for use in the classroom. Another £1.1 million was given to Computing at School, to train primary teachers through online resources and in school workshops.

The government has also increased bursaries for those wanting to become computing teachers. At the same time, scholarships of £25,000 are being offered to young people interested in becoming computer science teachers, backed by Microsoft, Google, IBM and Facebook.

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