The national curriculum has been updated – but not enough. There, we said it. Whilst technology is being advanced constantly, our education system hasn’t changed that much since Queen Victoria was on the throne.
Currently, the curriculum places a focus on learning and regurgitating times tables and phonics, and later algebraic formulas and literary quotes. Learning about technology and how computers work is present, but it is neglected, with over 65% of teachers stating they are unable to teach their students coding because of lack of knowledge and instruction. In a digital age, this is astonishing…and we are not amused.
The growth of the digital sector has led to skills shortages, with not enough people having the know-how to tackle job roles such as cyber security efficiently. Not enough people have the technological prowess to do an increasing number of jobs relating to computing. And of course, this stems from interest and knowledge gained in school.
Whilst Key Stage 1 children are now required to “understand what algorithms are; how they are implemented on digital devices, that programs execute by following precise and unambiguous instructions; create and debug simple programme”, in this year’s round of GCSEs, the number of students sitting a Computer Science GCSE fell by 16.6%, due in part to the discontinuation of the IT GCSE. That’s a decline of 22,850 students leaving secondary school with a computing qualification. And when technology, like it or not, is the way forward, this is a staggering shortage.
Due in part to lack of funding, it is clear however, that greater awareness of IT as a subject needs to be created for students. At a primary level, this can be created through increased integration of IT into lessons.
To assist with those aims stated above, educational apps and software are being encouraged in the classroom, particularly for areas primary teachers have less knowledge and training in, such as programming. Apps such as Tynker and Scratch Jr aim to teach coding in a simple manner, with children dragging and dropping code, before creating their own programmes when confident enough.
If you as a teacher would like to improve your coding skills, then Apple have created their very own ‘Everyone Can Code’ programme, creating a unique coding language that everyone can understand, alongside student and teacher guides. To develop website and apps, only primary school level Maths is needed, so you should have a headstart! Other websites such as CodeAcademy can assist in your learning, alongside a variety of free guides on the internet.
Currently only 20% of students take a computing subject at GCSE. This simple start, by including coding gradually into the syllabus, is enough to trigger a love for IT and computing that could last a lifetime, and become a successful and fulfilling career.