Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Teachers Unready for Computing Ambitions

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Teachers Unready for Computing Ambitions

Article excerpt

Lack of confidence in ability to deliver new curriculum for September

The majority of teachers are not confident in their ability to deliver the new computing curriculum even though it is due to be introduced to all schools in England next term, according to a survey.

The results were described as "very worrying" because little time remains to train staff before the majority of schools break up for the summer holidays next week.

England is leading the way by becoming the first country in the world to mandate the study of computing for all children aged 5-14. Only Estonia has embarked on a similar commitment, but its students do not begin studying the subject until they are 7.

The ambitious move -backed by technology giants including Google and Microsoft -is likely to be watched closely by other nations to see how schools cope. The decision to scrap ICT and replace it with a computing curriculum was announced by education secretary Michael Gove in 2012 as an attempt to arrest the decline in young people studying computer science and in response to concerns voiced by industry.

But according to data collected by YouGov on behalf of TES and innovation charity Nesta, just 7 per cent of polled teachers are "very confident" in their ability to teach computing. More than a third (35 per cent) are "not at all confident" and a further 25 per cent are "not very confident".

Almost 800 teachers were surveyed in total and more than two-thirds said they had not received enough support from the Department for Education (DfE) in preparing to deliver the new curriculum. Just over a quarter had not received any formal training at all.

Helen Goulden, executive director of Nesta, said the figures were "very worrying" because so little time remained to train teachers who felt unprepared. "The ability to make and create through technology is key to participating in and understanding the world around us, as well as an increasingly desired and required skill in the jobs market," she added.

From September, primary school children will be expected to create and debug simple programs and have a basic understanding of algorithms, even though most schools do not have specialist staff. Ms Goulden said an "ever-growing" number of organisations could work with teachers to help them deliver the curriculum. But the scale of the problem was illustrated by the fact that when confronted with a list of computing terms, 43 per cent of teachers had never heard of "binary digits".

Bob Harrison, education adviser at technology company Toshiba, said that although much positive work had been done by organisations such as the Computing At School charity to prepare teachers, the timescale was "always against them". …

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