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UK's IT industry welcomes new computing curriculum

Anh Nguyen | Sept. 19, 2013
But is there an overemphasis on the ‘boring’ side of coding?

Other IT companies that support computing in schools include HP, which runs the AQA Creative Enterprise Programme and TeenTech Awards.

"We are extremely pleased to see this progress with the curriculum as there is a clear skills gap in the UK IT sector," said Susan Bowen, HP UK & Ireland chief of staff.

Overemphasis on coding?
However, the school computing teachers' response to the Department for Education's (DfE) new curriculum was mixed.

Ian Addison, a Year 3 and 4 team leader at Riders Junior School, was concerned that there was an overemphasis on coding.

"Too much emphasis on coding can be very dull at times. All of the fun ICT - like animation and video editing - could get lost. You can do it with the new curriculum, but it's not obvious," he said.

But Phil Bagge, who teaches computing science at five junior schools in Hampshire, disagreed, saying that the new curriculum was now far more open-ended and challenging.

"The programming aspect encourages independence as pupils learn strategies to create and debug their own creations. Pupils learn that all programmers make mistakes and learn to embrace mistakes and learn from them. It is also a gateway to pupils learning how to learn by using the Scratch community to develop programs and ideas that they are interested. Schools become gateways into these communities for interested pupils," he said.

"Over half my classes in Year 4 and 5 download Scratch or use the new online version of Scratch. In Year 6 I introduce Python text coding and there is a visible wow when pupils create their first recognisable Microsoft Window."

Bagge added: "Probably even more fundamentally important is that computational thinking opens up new ways for pupils and staff to understand how things work. It surprises pupils at first when you move away from the PC for a computing lesson but the results can be hilarious and informative as you can see from this Jam Sandwich Algorithm lesson."

 

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