Computer Science in Schools - a once in a lifetime opportunity in the offing

The Roehampton Annual Computing Report has sparked renewed interest in the effectiveness of computing education in English schools, it points to data that shows significant issues including not enough girls opting to study Computer Science GCSE (CS) and A-level, a slowing of the overall growth in the numbers of students opting to take CS GCSE and the exclusivity of the qualifications.

The reason why these issues exist is one that many fail to agree on, and the report does little to offer explanations to settle the debate. But the fact that these issues must be addressed if we are to ensure that every child in every school is well-equipped to live and work in the digital world is something that we can all agree on.

And we know that this is something that the Government is also whole-heartedly committed to too. The £100m investment into computing education in the UK is set to create a step change as the new National Centre for Computing Education launches in the autumn term.

The National Centre aims to improve the expertise of computing teachers from primary to KS5 so that they can teach the new knowledge-based computing curriculum, and the new computer science content including at GCSE and A-level.

As a result, it is hoped to improve social mobility, increase numbers of pupils studying computer science at GCSE and A level and increase take up of computer science amongst girls and in disadvantaged areas. This is going to be crucial if we are going to ensure that every pupil has the opportunities to make the most of their talents and abilities.

The £84m programme in England (the remaining £16m will be split between the devolved nations) will run over 4 years and will include a National Centre for Computing Education and Network of 40 school-based computing hubs. A training programme to provide 8,000 computing teachers with the skills to effectively teach GCSE computer science, an A level support programme for computer science students and teachers and a pilot programme to identify effective approaches to improve gender balance in computing and increase girls’ participation in computer science GCSE and A level.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, an amazing opportunity to shape the present and future of computing education.

That’s why it’s important that we work together; school leaders, teachers, policy makers, employers and academics. I urge every one of you to play your part in helping to make this opportunity make a very real difference - so that every child in every school has an outstanding computing education that equips them to thrive in the digital world.

Julia Adamson
Director of Education

July 2018
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