Schools minister announces boost to computer science teaching

Measures to give teachers the support they need to teach pupils skills such as coding, computer programming and cyber-security announced by the DfE

Organisations are invited to run the first ever National Centre of Computing Science Education, the school standards minister Nick Gibb has announced.

The national centre, along with 40 leading schools across the country, will help improve teaching of the computing curriculum and is supported by a new programme which will train up to 8,000 computing teachers on the latest digital skills – that is enough to ensure every secondary school in England has a teacher who can support pupils to succeed.

The digital sectors contributed £118bn to the economy in 2015 and an estimated 1.2 million more people with specialist digital skills are needed by 2022. By ensuring the next generation has the technological skills we need we can help to maintain the UK’s position as a leading global digital economy.

This announcement comes as thousands of pupils prepare to sit reformed GCSEs in twenty subjects this year, including computer science. It follows last year’s successful introduction of reformed maths and English GCSEs, with 59.1% of pupils achieving a grade 4 or above in these subjects. The new, gold-standard GCSEs are on a par with the best in the world and will help deliver the skilled workforce Britain’s industries need.

Standards are rising in schools thanks to these reforms and the hard work of teachers, which has resulted in 1.9 million more children in good or outstanding schools than 2010.

School standards minister Nick Gibb said: “The fast-paced world of technology is constantly evolving and it is important that our computer science teachers are trained in the very latest digital skills.

“This programme will give teachers the subject knowledge and support they need to guide their pupils through the new computing curriculum. The knowledge pupils will gain in this subject at GCSE and A level will help employers to be able to recruit the skilled workforce they need, helping to build a Britain that is fit for the future.

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“On Monday 14 May, pupils will start sitting the new computer science GCSE for the first time after working towards it since 2016. This qualification has replaced the ICT GCSE and now includes more challenging content, such as coding and computer programming. This is to ensure that pupils that take this GCSE are better prepared for further education, higher education and beyond.”

The announcement follows on from the autumn budget, during which £84m was committed to upskill computer science teachers. The National Centre of Computing Education will be a major part of this commitment, providing resources at primary and secondary level. Linked to this centre will be a national network of 40 school-led computing hubs where teachers will be able to access specialist training which will benefit pupils.

Some of the funding will also be used for an A-level support programme. This will set out to improve the quality of teaching in AS and A level computer science and increase students’ knowledge and understanding so they are better prepared for further study and employment in digital and technology roles.

This announcement also looks to fulfil one of the aims of the Industrial Strategy, which is to invest in maths, digital and technical education and to help generate well paid, highly skilled jobs across the country. According to the government’s digital strategy, digital sectors contributed £118bn to the economy in 2015 and exports of digital goods and services now amount to over £50bn. Many jobs also now have a digital element, and it is predicted that within 20 years 90% of all jobs will require some element of digital skills.

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