New National Curriculum To Teach Five Year Olds Computer Programming

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Education Secretary Michael Gove to implement new computing curriciulum by September 2014

Primary school pupils in England will be taught computer programming as part of an overhaul of the national curriculum that will see ICT replaced with computing across all levels of education from September 2014

The plans were announced by Education Secretary Michael Gove, who hopes to finalise the curriculum by this autumn so schools have a year to prepare for the changes.

“Perhaps the most significant change of all is the replacement of ICT with computing,” said Gove of the new curriculum. “Instead of just learning to use programmes [sic] created by others, it is vital that children learn to create their own programmes [sic].”

Computing education

MichaelGove_1578392cComputer Science is at the core of the syllabus and Gove hopes pupils will apply logical thinking and creativity and make links with mathematics, science design and technology. They will be taught the principles of information and computation and should be able to use IT to create programs, use systems and a wide range of media.

Pupils as young as five will be taught how to create and debug simple programs, online safety and privacy and to create, organise and store digital content.

Children aged between seven and eleven will design, write and debug programs that accomplish specific goals. These will use selection and repetition, variables and various forms of inputs and outputs. Pupils will also be taught about networks and how to report inappropriate behaviour on the Internet.

Skills shortage

Older students will be taught to understand several key algorithms, including those for searching and sorting, and will be able to use two or more programming languages. They will also be able to make appropriate use of data structures such as lists, tables and arrays and be able to use Booleans.

The ability to undertake creative projects across several applications and several devices should help pupils in other subjects, as will the digital research skills acquired.

Gove scrapped the previous ICT curriculum in September last year after he declared it to be “harmful and dull” as students were “bored out of their minds” with being taught how to use Word and Excel.

The government will hope that the new curriculum will appease Ofcom and the British technology industry for being insufficiently rigorous and in danger of resulting in a skills shortage.

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt has been a vocal critic of the syllabus and called for ICT to be made a compulsory subject at GCSE level.

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Steve McCaskill is deputy editor of TechWeekEurope and joined as a reporter in 2011 having previously written for Steel Media. He covers telecommunications, networking, public sector IT, along with sports technology.

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