Harrogate teachers have their say on computer science in schools

The new computer science curriculum is not universally accepted as the right way forward.
The new computer science curriculum is not universally accepted as the right way forward.
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Schools are having their say on the addition of computer science to the curriculum after a full term since its introduction.

In September 2014, former Education Secretary Michael Gove introduced computer science and programming to the standard education offered to children in the UK.

Designed to prepare students for the new technologies in the world, teachers have now had a full school term to get to grips with computer science and put this knowledge to use through coding.

However, this revolutionary move, introduced to children from the age of five, is not universally accepted as the right way forward.

Hampsthwaite Church of England Primary School head Andrew Phoenix said that, though resources are readily available and are effective, there are other considerations to take into account.

He said “We have worked with robotics and the children have taken to that brilliantly.

“But everybody is interpreting this as coding and the link to gaming and entertainment, and while that is a valid part of what we should be doing, I don’t believe that is where the future lies.

“The government has an agenda focusing on the fact that there is a gaming industry out there that not many English people are contributing to, but I feel strongly, as a church school, that we need to be looking at other purposes of computing than gaming.

“We have started looking at artificial intelligence and programming that, so rather than looking at entertaining ourselves we are looking at something that helps other people.

“Putting it in real life context shows the pupils that computing has a value. We are trying to make them think what this is useful for and how it would benefit humanity.”

Last month, Prime Minister David Cameron announced the formation of a national college for digital skills and a new GCSE in computer science.

This push, on teaching children different computer programming ‘languages’ from an early age, is welcomed by many, including ICT leader at Saltergate Infant School Zoe Thomas, who said: “It is something that we have struggled with because it is new and we have had to do research.

“But all the staff have had training and everybody feels a little bit more comfortable with it now.

“I don’t think it is difficult for the children. There are a lot of things they are doing independently already and it is just explaining to them what they are doing naturally.”