ICT teaching upgrade expected … in 2014

The national curriculum for ICT has been suspended as of this September after the education secretary, Michael Gove, said it was”demotivating and dull”. In September 2014, the DfE intends to publish the new ICT curriculum at the same time as the revised curriculum for other subjects. But in the two years till then, how are children who have poor access to computers and computer science expertise in school going to be served, when teachers, it seems, are now struggling to understand what they should be teaching in this subject area? This is from the Guardian…

A survey for the Guardian shows that so far 33% of boys and just 17% of girls have learned any computer coding skills at school

“It’s really nice to create something rather than just consume – so many people just use other people’s stuff,” says 12-year-old Milo Piccini Noble. Keen to show off the tic-tac-toe game he has made, Milo challenges me to beat his computer. I fail miserably. “Perhaps I should adjust the level,” he says kindly. “It took me a week to make, and I put in three difficulty levels.”

Milo is one of six young people aged 11-17 ensconsed for five days amid laptops and wires in an office at Spike Island, Bristol’s arts and media hub. It’s where Mark Wales, from the web development companySmall Hadron Collider, has volunteered to teach coding skills as part of the nationwide summer coding camp Young Rewired State, now in its third year.

Three days in, the group has already created a program that uses the height and weight of each Olympic competitor to work out their body mass index and see what proportion are technically underweight, overweight and obese. Today they are pulling data from the web to create a medal table that updates automatically.

Is coding difficult? “Initially, but only because it is very strict,” says Alexi Siddiqui, 14. “There’s just a lot to remember,” adds his friend, Ben Coleclough, also 14. “But when you’ve made something, it’s yours,” nods Alexi. “You can share stuff you’ve made on the internet,” adds Jack Baron, 12. “Or your stuff can be linked.” Having other people showing that they like his work clearly makes him feel good.

These young people are ahead of the game. Learning how to use Microsoft Office is of little interest when, as Alexi says, it’s more satisfying to “make things to find out how it works”. But they’re in a minority. In an O2 survey of 1,000 young people carried out this month for the Guardian, just a quarter said they had learned any computer coding at school – 33% of boys and just 17% of girls. Only 6% said they had had a go with a Raspberry Pi – the credit card-sized device that has been heralded by many as the great hope for coding.

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