Computing in Schools
Cast your mind back to January 2014, before the Brexit battle began, and when we finally saw a glimmer of hope for computing and technology in education. Back then, Michael Gove was Secretary of State for Education, and at the BETT conference he announced developments on his promise to revolutionise the teaching of computing in schools.
At the conference, Gove echoed his aim to replace England’s computing curriculum which he described as “unambitious, demotivating and dull” with an “ambitious, stretching and exciting” one; a system that would “equip every child with the computing skills they need to succeed in the 21st century.” Gove had previously criticised the IT syllabus in schools for being “too often reducible to showing kids how to use PowerPoint,” the Guardian reported. As a solution, the former education secretary proposed a new computing curriculum and the introduction of a computer science GCSE – he wanted the subject to be taken as seriously as physics, chemistry and biology.
True to his word, noticeable changes were made to computing in the 2014 national curriculum, and in 2015, the ICT GCSE and A-levels were replaced with a new GCSE in computer science (to be taught from 2016). Both GCSEs were about technology, but ICT focused on how best to employ technology for business needs whereas the computer science GCSE looked at the inner-workings and programming of a computer. The Bookseller stated that the computer science GCSE would teach students how to “write code, design programs and understand the ethical and legal impacts of digital technology.”
Back to Reality
One year on, it’s 2017 and the reality of computing in schools has hit home. A report from the Royal Society highlighted that over half of England’s schools do not offer a computer science GCSE. Only a measly 11% of the country’s pupils sat the exam last year (2016), said the Guardian last month (November). Gove hoped that teachers would inspire students with the many possibilities opened up by technology, but the numbers stand on their own two feet. To pile more pressure on the topic of computing in schools, news sites have identified a further issue: there is a gender imbalance. In the past year, just 20% of GCSE computer science students were female, and only 10% of female candidates chose to continue with the subject at A-level. Computing Research revealed that the scrapped ICT GCSE had “a fairly equal balance of boys and girls.”
A Computing Crisis?
After reading the aforementioned statistics, it’s no surprise that computing as a profession is suffering as a consequence. A lack of computing students likely means a lack of computing professionals. With the on-going recruitment crisis in teaching (which could worsen with Brexit), computing has become one of the most obvious ‘victims’. England is meeting just 68% of its computer science targets. The Guardian stated that “existing teachers say they do not have the right support to get on top of the new subjects.” Due to a lack of skills and teaching tools, 67% of teachers feel they cannot teach students how to code, and around 40% say they do not have access to the right hard-and software.
Capitalise on the Computing Skills Shortage
In the 2014 BETT Conference, Gove highlighted that the new computer science GCSE would give students the skills jobs of the future would demand. However, the lack of students studying the subject means that few are taking advantage of this benefit. The severity of this issue was outlined recently in a report by Government Computing: skills shortages in the computing sector are hindering the government’s capacity to adopt cloud computing (the latest delivery of computing services). There is a positive to be taken from this news however; the computing skills shortage has left a gap in the market for those interested in a career in the computing industry. If you know/want to learn about the latest technologies (such as computing in the ‘cloud’), now’s the time to take advantage and make your move.
Would you like to gain the knowledge and skills needed to work and excel in the computing sector? An HND in computing may just be your perfect solution. HNDs have a practical-focus, allowing students to gain the key skills and knowledge required to succeed in their chosen industry.
If you’d like to discuss studying a computing HND, get in touch with HND Insider today.
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