English Schools Make Coding Lessons Mandatory

I already feel like a doddering old man around my younger friends. When I did Information Communication Technology at school, there was only one machine with a colour graphical user interface and we didn’t even get that until I was halfway through my school career. Now, England is set to become the first country in the world to make coding (or “computer programming” as we called it before it was cool) mandatory in schools.

Every child between five and fourteen will be given lessons in how to make the next Call of Duty (or something like that) in a scheme that has the backing of both Microsoft and Google. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite have the unanimous backing of teachers just yet – they appear quite uncertain in their own ability to teach the subject.

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Since most teachers went to school at the same kind of time I did, they never learnt how to program much beyond extremely basic things in, well, BASIC. A few might have copied out lines of code – as I did when I was five or six – from Spectrum magazines but that’s where the level of expertise ends for many. Around two thirds of teachers polled by The Times don’t have confidence in their ability to teach the subject. The problem is especially prevalent among primary school teachers who handle our nation’s children’s educations between the ages of five and eleven.

Nevertheless, it’s undoubtedly a step in the right direction, despite any teething problems or issues of infrastructure that might need smoothed out. Programming teaches much more than simply how to make things happen on a computer – it’s full of wider lessons about logic and problem solving, as well as encouraging a kind of creativity that might not be so easy to encourage by other means.

Source: Forbes

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14 Comments

  1. Would have loved this when I was at school – Alas, the closest we got to this was playing a game called ‘Grannies Garden’ (I think!) on a BBC computer. I think this was supposed to teach English in some way, but I can’t say I really know how.

    Other than that, IT was severely lacking in the schools I attended & was pretty much not taught at all.

    I have a feeling that Computers may have been ‘The Devil’ when I went to school (much in the same way that video nasties etc were back in the day).

    • Every child has it’s own potential of leaning skills and most students went to school just because of they are love and passionate about learning. Pay For Assignments writing services.

  2. I recently went to a secondary school with sixth form that had been awarded an ICT mark. While the GCSE ICT offering was varied and interesting (Flash, graphic and sound creation, website design, simple databases, excel and word), the A-level course just seemed a step backwards. The first year (AS level) was just using Word, excel and publisher. 60% of the time was spent doing write ups, and describing how we did it, as ‘evidence’.

    I dropped it to concentrate on other A-levels, and recently found out that they don’t even run the course anymore, which is not surprising. I wish that the proper computing/IT course that was announced the other year was available when I was there, but at least things are going in the right direction.

  3. Whilst people can learn to code/program, I can’t help but point out that great programmers have a particular mindset. I really hope they don’t waste curriculum time with coding when they should merely be introduced to it (along with a variety of other up-and-coming topics that are technology based). This means you can allow the potential in each student to simply gravitate towards what interests them and what might make them great in that topic and that topic alone.

    • One of the real positives of coding is that it’s a really good tool for teaching logic and certain ways of thinking and problem solving, which are useful to everyone, not just coders.

      • I’m genuinely aware of the benefits of coding but nearly every topic will present unique challenges to students/pupils. The massive problem I have is that there are people who gravitate naturally to coding because of a certain disposition. Equally, I’m happy that people might not know they’re any good at it until they try. Bringing programming into the curriculum is no bad thing but I don’t want time wasted on it when it’s easy to work out how long it might take to see where pupils start to excel. Same goes for any sub-section of technology (and beyond that).

        Think of it like this. We still have degrees being taught where people already have an understanding of all topics (in the first year) but continue to have to study even until their third year. This year should be specialist stuff with you focussing on the very thing you’re hoping to pursue as a career not wasting your time on a topic where you already have a decent amount of understanding whilst sacrificing precious time away from the thing you REALLY should be concentrating on.

        So, rewind to something like comprehensive school and have them show teenagers 3D art, concepts and ideas, as well as programming. As you can see I’m focussing on games development but don’t necessarily need to.

        I just don’t want any given school to waste a year teaching coding to pupils when a handful of weeks would’ve been enough to assess who was really embracing it and the ones who were keen to distance themselves from it. Rinse and repeat but then change to 3D art, concepts and ideas, etc. All topics that have unique ways of bringing out certain traits and showing pupils genuinely exciting opportunities for things they love as well as a potential career path.

      • Bunimomike – I’m with you all the way. I left 6th form in 1990, got a trainee programmer job and have remained in the industry ever since (though I left coding back in 2000). There is definitely a certain mindset which suits coding and though others may have a go, only those with the aptitude will take it further and excel at it.
        I would disagree with you though on the 3D art and gaming side of things being the core for those really interested. The gaming industry is a very narrow field with more people chasing jobs than are available. If kids like coding then there are many more opportunities in coding fur business than gaming. Learning how to code up a simple database, write the middle and front end code and then show it off would be really useful in UK businesses.

      • Ah, sorry, Amphlett. I was using those as example. Swap them out for something else.

        Simply put, if we look at emerging topics of interest (or at least relatively modern ones) that’s my thinking. If it’s something that’ll help with education (and the potential career) then I’m all for it. Heck, the topics that are new to education on a mandatory basis could be programming, world affairs, zombie apocalypse survival and how to surf the internet safely whilst still getting your porn fix on.

        If they were the more important ones, I’d want people to be introduced to all of them but equally to recognise when someone warms to a topic or utterly shudders at another. Otherwise, we’re wasting time.

  4. Really wish I had this when I was at school. Always been something I’ve been really interested in but feel I’ve missed my chance to really sit down and learn it properly unfortunately.

    On a side note, I realised I left school 10 years ago. This has pretty much ruined my day so thanks!

    • You think that’s bad? Try 20 years ago.

      Now I’m really depressed! ;)

    • Count yourself lucky, I’m at 18 years!

      If you want to look at learning to code there’s plenty of options still available to you. I’ve been working through various modules at codecademy.com, highly recommend it.

  5. Feel like ive missed out :( I cant find a local college that will even teach networking (granted I could learn for free via youtube as its just because it interests me). My little brother will love this though.

  6. As a primary school teacher, I think it will suit *some* of the students and a few teachers. I love tech stuff, but didn’t really get past 10 PRINT”Hello” 20 GOTO 10 on my speccy 48k. Will see what happens, sounds good for the voters but not sure how it will play out in reality.

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