Programming is being (re-)introduced in English primary schools as part of the reformulated National Curriculum and this is certainly A Good Thing.
One worry, though, is whether there are enough teachers with the basic skills in programming needed to teach. I am pretty certain there are not: hence the importance of volunteer schemes such as “Code Club”.
I think there is scope for a text that gives teachers some familiarity with key programming concepts, using MIT’s Scratch language/environment and so I am making a stab at writing such a text for electronic distribution.
I try to keep openly political things off here, but this response to the OFSTED report on computing in schools is so good it deserves more publicity:
Stephen Twigg MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, responding to the report from Ofsted on ICT in schools today said:
“Today’s Ofsted report on ICT in schools shows that our computer teaching is simply not up to standard. For too many pupils, computer teaching can be little more than a glorified typing course.
“The fact that the overall effectiveness of ICT teaching is only satisfactory or poor in nearly two thirds of all secondary schools in England is not good enough. We need far more rigour in ICT teaching, with higher quality training, higher standards and continual assessment of what pupils are being taught.
“The Government must look at this evidence and feed it into the review of the National Curriculum. I have written to Michael Gove to offer Labour’s support for the curriculum review so that we can attempt to build a cross party consensus.
“Pupils need to have an opportunity to understand the mechanisms and coding behind computer programmes. Learning how to type on a wordprocessor, enter data into a worksheet or design a powerpoint presentation is not sufficient.
“If the UK is to maintain its competitiveness and educate a new generation of Alan Turings we need to develop the programming skills, as well as the understanding of the links between computing, maths and science.
Notes to Editors The report, available here: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/news/young-people-are-not-being-sufficiently-challenged-ict-lessons-0 contains a number of worrying findings including: * A fifth of ICT achievement is inadequate, despite the subject being a compulsory part of the national curriculum; * Many teachers have “limited” knowledge of programming; and there are weaknesses in more demanding aspects of ICT such as control and data handling * Pupils’ use of ICT in other subjects was only occasionally tracked or recorded. For those students in Key Stage 4 who were not receiving specialist ICT teaching there was no systematic record of their learning in ICT and no means for teachers or pupils to know whether they had gaps in their knowledge. * High flyers are often neglected and the students do the same tasks over and over again; The ICT curriculum and qualification routes provided by nearly half of the secondary schools surveyed were not meeting the needs of all students, especially at Key Stage 4. In these schools a single vocational examination course was taken by all students, limiting challenge to the more able, or ICT was offered as an option to some students with others not receiving the full National Curriculum. As a result, in 30 of the 74 schools visited nearly half of the students reach the age of 16 without a sound foundation for further study or training in ICT and related subjects. * Very few examples were seen of secondary schools engaging with local IT businesses to bring the subject alive for their students. This was a particular issue for girls, many of whom need a fuller understanding of ICT-related career and education options to inform their subject choices at 14 and 16 years of age.