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BCS welcomes Royal Society Report

10 November 2017 - BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT welcomes the Royal Society Report (After the Reboot: Computing Education in UK Schools) - published today. The report states that computing education across the UK is patchy and fragile. Many teachers aren’t confident enough to teach the subject and the number of female pupils opting to take the subject remains very low.

 

The Institute strongly supports the report’s recommendations that steps must be taken to address these issues which are vital if the UK is going to remain competitive: In England, all schools need to put in place arrangements to meet the requirements of the Key Stage 4 national curriculum for all pupils. Steps must be taken improve gender balance in computing. Measures also need to be put in place to ensure there is a strong supply of computing teachers entering the profession and to provide support to existing teachers, with and without expertise in computing.

 

Bill Mitchell, Director of Education says: “We support the report’s findings and hope that its recommendations will be taken seriously. The report has identified a number of urgent challenges that governments, industry and school leaders need to address in order to safeguard our future efficacy in the digital world.

 

The Government took the incredibly forward-thinking step of introducing computing to the curriculum over 3 years ago and since many schools have made incredible progress. However, the job is far from done. The alarming facts are - that in England - 175,000 pupils miss out on studying Computer Science at GCSE each year because their school doesn’t offer it. More worrying still is the fact that only 1 in 5 Computer Science pupils are female and furthermore, that just 44% of secondary school teachers surveyed only feel confident with the earlier stages of the curriculum – where there is less of a computer science focus. As the report says, we really need to do much better than this if we hope to remain an advanced economy in the digital age.”

 

Our country needs to see the number of students taking GCSE Computer Science grow substantially next year and every year until we have at least 200,000 students taking the subject. We believe to enable them to thrive and take advantage of huge technological change, every child should have the opportunity to access an outstanding computing education taught by confident, qualified teachers. However, this will only happen where we make sure teachers are getting the right professional development to ensure GCSE Computer Science is a success.

 

Computing skills are as important as reading and writing, and the Institute believes every pupil should leave school with the necessary digital skills to thrive in the digital world that surrounds them. Those who go on to specialise in the subject and choose a professional career in IT - will use their knowledge to help drive the UK’s economy.

 

Bill continues: “The findings of this report are worrying and indicate that we are going to be very far short of the numbers needed for the UK to remain a leader of digital technology in the long term. Forecasts predict that 90% of all future jobs will require digital skills and it is estimated that the UK will need more than 1.2 million new technical and digitally skilled people by 2022 to satisfy future skills needs, Computer Science GCSE is one of the key pathways that young people can take.

 

While the report claims that there is much cause for concern, it also reveals that there is much to celebrate and there are many pockets of excellence. The Computing At School (CAS) Network of Excellence (NoE) was set up to help teachers learn how to deliver the new computing curriculum.

 

In terms of moving from GCSEs to A-Levels, pupils will normally require a minimum grade of a B at GCSE. Our evidence shows conclusively that pupils in schools receiving NoE support are most likely to achieve a B grade, whereas those that do not receive NoE support are most likely to achieve a C.

 

The Institute provided a substantial submission to the Royal Society and several board members of BCS Academy of Computing acted as members of the Royal Society’s advisory group.