Livingstone promotes new free school for creative arts

Next Gen Skills campaign chair Ian Livingstone CBE is looking to found a free-school in London’s Hammersmith borough, which hopes to embrace new methods of teaching to engage children with the core skills of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) that form the core of the needs of the modern workplace.

The Livingstone School makes its application to government today, with the aim to launch for the first year of pupils in September of 2015.

The Livingstone Foundation Academies Trust has a vision to create an outstanding secondary school in Hammersmith catering for students aged 11-18. This new, Free School will be moderately small with 120 students in Year 7 and 200 in the 6th Form, giving a total school size of 800 places.​

The Livingstone School, Hammersmith will ensure that all young people who attend, regardless of background or ability, are equipped with knowledge and skills to influence the society in which they will live. With Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise at it’s heart, the curriculum will focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM).

Britain’s technological companies rely heavily on computer literate students with strong computing, coding and creative skills. However, there is a vacuum in computing expertise. Demand in the UK far outstrips supply. The Livingstone School, Hammersmith will provide relevant teaching that addresses the lack of technological and creative expertise amongst students today.

Mayor sets out Smart London initiative – focus on skills

The Mayor of London has set out a new tech strategy with skills at its heart, in the new Smart London document launched just before Christmas.

“With 45 higher education institutions London is a centre of knowledge production, invention and entrepreneurship. London has more tech start-ups than any other European city, is a world leader in healthcare delivery for its citizens, and in diagnosing, discovering and providing treatments to tackle the pressing needs of global cities.

“London must harness new technologies and its creative strengths if the city is to adapt to meet these challenges. This effort will require new forms of collaboration between Londoners, government, businesses and academia to drive change in a way that meets their needs. 

“Technology companies are establishing London as a centre for showcasing new technology and innovation, collaborating with London’s world class research institutions.

“If we build on this lead, further investment in technology and data can drive improvements in:

  • Enterprise – enabling businesses to innovate and respond to these demands
  • Skills – enhancing access to knowledge and training to enable Londoners to take part.”

Read the Smart London approach here.

 

Next Gen Skills’ Ian Livingstone CBE hails major advance in computing education

The confirmation of the new National Curriculum subject in Computing has been hailed as a “major boost for the creative economy”, according to Ukie Vice-Chair and Next Gen Skills campaigner Ian Livingstone CBE.

Under government plans, a new GCSE subject in Computing will replace ICT from September 2014 with a new ‘Programme of Study’ which teaches children the fundamentals of computer programming from primary school onwards.

The announcement was a key recommendation of the NESTA Next Gen report in 2011 marks a major success for Ukie-funded Next Gen Skills campaign launched to ensure the recommendations were implemented.

Responding to the new Programme of Study for Computing Livingstone said:

”The publication of the new curriculum marks a step change for English schools and is a major boost for the creative economy.  Out goes the old ICT curriculum, which most students found boring, and in comes Computing based on problem-based learning that will be rigorous, relevant and exciting. It will give students a good grounding in programming too.  I particularly welcome the emphasis on creativity, giving a much-needed signal to schools that the teaching of digital-making skills also requires Art and Humanities for children to be able to express themselves and operate in the digital world.”   

Chancellor believes Britain should give young people the skills to lead the digital world

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Obsorne writes in the Observer on the government’s vision for UK digital skills:

‘The computer is a bicycle for our minds.” That’s what Steve Jobs said back in 1990, at the dawn of the internet revolution that transformed economies and societies across the globe. When I was a teenager, I was lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to learn to code Basic– the equivalent of learning to ride a bike in the digital age, so to speak. At the time, tens of thousands of young people across the UK were also learning to code on BBC Microcomputers, and exploring the potential of writing software and interacting with technology. While my coding skills didn’t make it beyond Basic, an entire generation of gifted British software engineers and world-beating technology companies was born.

This golden era of coding ended in the last decade, as school curriculums focused on simply teaching young people how to use software such as Word and PowerPoint, not how to write code and design computer programs. In other words, students became passive consumers, not creative producers.

At a time when technology was becoming ever more important for the economy, when we were not only viewing what’s available online but editing and uploading too, I think this was a mistake. It fundamentally misunderstood tech – an industry that has broken down the traditional barriers between the consumer and the producer.

This means that today an ever increasing number of people are producing software, creating new ideas, new products, even new industries. The proliferation of apps is just one example, fuelled as it is by thousands of small developers, rather than the few goliaths who made up the market for software just a decade ago. The digital economy is booming, producing the kind of jobs we need to win in the global race.

That’s why, this week, I’m going to one of the world’s largest technology festivals, Campus Party, at London’s O2, where I will debate with Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales the role for government alongside entrepreneurs in making sure this country is the best place in the world to learn digital skills, engage with the digital economy and set up the next Wikipedia.

Government doesn’t create entrepreneurs. But my job as chancellor is to make sure we create the right environment for those entrepreneurs to succeed. First, we’re putting in place the right digital infrastructure. We are already committed to extending superfast broadband to 95% of homes and businesses – and this year we announced we want to reach 99%.

Second, we are opening up the government data that had previously been locked away in Whitehall. This data not only makes government more accountable and transparent, it’s also being used by thousands of small businesses and charities across the UK to produce innovative new apps and services.

But most important of all, we are going to give our young people the very best tech start in life. As this newspaper has so tirelessly argued, it is vital for our economy that British students are once more taught how to program code and master the tools of the digital age.

From September 2014, the new national curriculum will require that students aged between five and 16 are given the skills they need to build apps and write computer programs. The curriculum will cover theoretical ideas and practical problems, software and hardware systems – and it certainly won’t be an easy ride. Students will be given a thorough understanding of logic and set theory, and they’ll need to master difficult concepts such as algorithms, programming languages and the architecture of the internet.

There will be tough new requirements for computer science teachers, too, who themselves should be able to program code. We’ve launched new bursaries of up to £9,000 to computer science graduates who become teachers. We have teamed up with the British Computer Society to offer scholarships worth £20,000 each to reward truly exceptional graduates who decide to become computer science teachers. And we’re retaining existing teachers. Our education minister, Liz Truss, recently announced £2m of funding to build a network of 400 “master teachers” who will help thousands of others acquire the digital-making skills that they in turn can pass on to their students.

And we’re going beyond schools. In May, I launched the Make Things Do Stuff campaign, bringing together big business and startups, formal education and after school clubs, mentors and children to improve Britain’s digital skills by delivering practical tools and digital-making opportunities. It has so far reached more than 100,000 young people who have been inspired to have fun with data, technology and content, creating websites, apps and even a satnav system for bicycles.

And we’re making Britain the best place in the world to start a tech business. We were the first country to introduce entrepreneur visas, so that the brightest and best talent from around the world can come to the UK to launch their business and create jobs. We’ve introduced the most generous tax breaks in the world for investment into startup companies, and made it easier for tech companies to list on the London Stock Exchange, so that tech entrepreneurs can access the capital they need. And we’ve opened up billions of pounds’ worth of public sector IT contracts to innovative British startups, giving thousands of companies the opportunity to secure lucrative government contracts.

I’m proud of the measures this government is taking to ensure Britain is in the vanguard of the digital economy. It’s all part of our plan to boost growth and bring highly skilled jobs to the UK. Just think of the positive impact that Jimmy Wales has had on the world, and the way that Wikipedia has opened up new learning opportunities for billions of people. Thanks to our commitment to the digital economy, I have no doubt that a new generation of talented British software engineers will follow in Jimmy’s footsteps and help create a better future for us all.

Campus Party runs from 2-7 September at the O2 in London

Summer 2013 update on ICT GCSEs and A-level progress

Increase in ICT GCSE entries
Figures released by the Joint Council for Qualifications on 22 August show that ICT GCSE entries have risen by 25% in 2013 (n.b. this is the old curriculum), to 87,788 candidates sitting the exam this year. This is the first time since the mid-2000s that the number of candidates has increased. However, the proportion of female candidates decreased slightly, from 46% in 2012 to 44% today, highlighting the continuing need to make these subjects appeals to girls.

Girls have also excelled from an achievement perspective: 30.9% of female candidates achieved an A* or A grade, compared with 23% of males. But the cohort as a whole did well, since only 21.3% of all GCSEs receive an A* or A.

But A-levels in Computing still decline…
A-level results released on Thursday 15 August 2013 show that the number of students taking A Level Computing has fallen for the tenth consecutive year. Last year just 3,758 people sat the qualification, a decline of 1.3% on the previous year, and they still account for just 0.4 of all A levels.

Only 6.5% of entrants are female, 1.3 percentage points lower than last year. More encouragingly, more than one in five girls who took the exam achieved an A or A* grade, compared with 15.4% of boys. The picture is similar for ICT A level, which recorded a decline in entries of 6%. 10,419 people sat the exam, which made up 1.2% of all A Levels, and 38% of entrants were female. These declines took place against a background of increasing interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects as a whole. Uptake of STEM subjects at A Level rose 1.9% in 2013, with Chemistry showing the strongest increase at 5.25%.

Computer Science to be included on the English Baccalaureate

The Department for Education has today announced that Computer Science will be included as a optional science on the English Baccalaureate.

The EBacc requires pupils to get good GCSE grades in core subjects – English, maths, sciences, a humanities and language. This means Computer Science will now be included as one of the science options that count towards this measure.  We believe that this makes Computer Science a recognised discipline in its own right, and will transform the status and take up of the subject across the country.

As you will know, this was a major recommendation of the Next Gen report http://www.nesta.org.uk/library/documents/NextGenv32.pdf and has been advocated by the campaign and campaign members, including the Creative Industries Council Skills Group.

Responding to the news that Computer Science will be considered a subject on the English Baccalaureate, Ian Livingstone CBE, co-chair of Next Gen Skills said:

“Getting Computer Science accepted as a subject on the English Baccalaureate could be transformational. It is a huge victory for the Next Gen Skills campaign and our partners. Computer Science is now officially the 4th science, on a par with the other sciences, and a core subject for children to learn. This will help ensure that this country produces a new generation of digital makers, not just for the games industry, but for all creative and digital industries. The legacy of Alan Turing lives on!”

Dr Jo Twist, CEO of games trade body Ukie, which funded the Next Gen Skills campaign, said:

“It is great that the Government has listened to the many voices calling for a reboot of Computer Science learning in schools.  This is fantastic news for the games industry, which has backed change right from the start.”

Livingstone welcomes Google Pi initiative

Responding to the Google – Raspberry Pi initiative to fund 15,000 Raspberry Pi devices for children, Games industry legend and co-chair of the Next Gen Skills campaign Ian Livingstone OBE said:

“Putting Raspberry Pis into the hands of children on this scale is potentially the most positive initiative to spur digital creativity since the advent of the BBC Micro in the 1980s. It will empower children to learn the magic of programming, helping them to both create content and also understand the digital world in which they live. It will help redress the shocking Computer Science deficit in this country.”

Low take up Computing across country and London hurts hi-tech growth, says Next Gen Skills

Press release – 29th January 2013

  • Very low take-up of Computing A-level across the country (Key Stage 5) continues in 2011/12
  • Decline in Computing A-level from high in 1998, now makes up only 0.4% of A-levels taken
  • Poor curriculum and lack of schools-hi tech industry link blamed
  • Inclusion of Computer Science as ‘Fourth Science’ on E-Bacc needed

Despite being home to the most digitally innovative industries in the world English schools are failing to produce students in enough numbers to fill the needs of hi tech and creative businesses, says Games industry legend and co-Chair of the cross industry Next Gen Skills campaign Ian Livingstone.

The issue is particularly acute in London because of the gap between the skills taught in the capital’s schools and the growth of new digital and creative media companies in central London and ‘Tech City’.

Statistics from the Department for Education illustrate:

  • the poor take up of Computing in English schools – only 3420 A-levels (0.4%) taken – down from 12529 in 1998
  • only 376 students entered Computing at A-level in London in 2011/12
  • 6 central London boroughs (Westminster, Camden, Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Southwark) identified by Greater London Authority (2012) as having highest concentration of Tech in Europe only produced 33 A-level students last year.

This further confirms industry concerns that computer programming skills are not being provided adequately in English schools.

Since Secretary of State Michael Gove’s speech at BETT in January 2012, ICT and Computer Science education has been changing:

  • a new ICT curriculum with computing at its heart will be launched by the Department for Education in September 2014, replacing the outdated ICT Programme of Study
  • all major examining bodies have developed new Computer Science GCSEs, removing a major barrier to progress
  • the Department for Education is considering whether Computer Science will be included as a science in the English-Baccalaureate, a signal which will stimulate take-up in many schools
  • there has been a rise in interest in informal learning – via hack days and through new devices such as the Raspberry Pi

However, there are still barriers to take up:

  • Schools currently lack enough qualified teachers to teach even the existing ICT courses, let alone a new Computer Science course.  Only 29% of teachers are judged by the DfE to be qualified to teach ICT today in inner London schools and 45% in outer London.  Nationally two thirds of teachers are not deemed to have sufficiently relevant qualifications (Source: DfE/Royal Society 2012 http://royalsociety.org/education/policy/computing-in-schools/report ).
  • Nationally, there is a massive gender divide as with all STEM subjects – only 7% (255) of Computing A-level students in 2011/12 are girls (DfE 2013).
  • Students interested in technology tend to take vocational qualifications of varying quality and specialism, which only totalled 1903 level 3 achievements across the capital last year.   This raises the question whether English regions are equipped for more demand in R&D, design, retail, manufacturing as well as creative media and entry-level IT
  • Further support for a network of after-school club and hobbyist learning.

Games industry legend Ian Livingstone OBE and Next Gen Skills campaign chair said:

“The statistics show the sheer scale of the challenge in front of us to get programming back in schools.  Whether it’s making games, fighting cyber-crime or designing the next jet propulsion engine, computer science is at the heart of everything in the digital world.  Government changes to ICT in schools are welcome.  The next step will be to have Computer Science on the new E-Bacc to further inspire a new generation of computer programmers.”

Notes to editors

Computing A-level entries 2011/12 by local authority area against total A-level entries in all subjects (24 January).   Information collated for the 2012 School and College Performance Table (published 24 Jan). http://www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s001112/index.shtml

London statistics (access list for all LAs).

Area/borough

Number of Entries

Total A-levels taken

LONDON

376

97,625

Inner London

128

26,262

Camden

0

2,828

City of London

.

.

Hackney

8

1,441

Hammersmith and Fulham

0

2,148

Haringey

0

1,802

Islington

16

1,987

Kensington and Chelsea

0

1,415

Lambeth

10

1,106

Lewisham

42

2,990

Newham

14

1,939

Southwark

0

1,026

Tower Hamlets

9

1,954

Wandsworth

29

3,637

Westminster

0

1,989

 

 

Outer London

248

71,363

Barking and Dagenham

0

1,649

Barnet

14

7,553

Bexley

14

3,638

Brent

10

3,422

Bromley

39

6,012

Croydon

27

3,161

Ealing

12

3,133

Enfield

0

3,820

Greenwich

7

1,544

Harrow

14

4,257

Havering

31

4,573

Hillingdon

5

3,670

Hounslow

0

3,399

Kingston upon Thames

7

3,200

Merton

0

901

Redbridge

44

6,372

Richmond upon Thames

13

2,299

Sutton

11

4,938

Waltham Forest

0

3,822

 

Next Gen Skills campaign hails progress on ICT reform and Computer Science in schools

Hi tech skills coalition the Next Gen Skills campaign today hailed progress to reform the outdated ICT curriculum and re-introduce Computer Science in schools to address the UK’s skills shortage in this area.

The education secretary, Michael Gove announced today (Friday, 19th October) that current information and communications technology (ICT) teacher training courses will be axed from next year.

Instead, new computer science courses, designed with help from top technology firms will be introduced. The new courses, which will start from next autumn, will also include input from industry experts and professional bodies, the Department for Education (DfE) said.

Next Gen Skills is a major campaign formed from an alliance between the biggest names from the UK digital, creative and hi-tech industries and the UK’s leading skills and educational bodies to improve the computer programming skills needed for the future growth of our economy. Since its launch in November 2011, the campaign has argued for a reform of ICT studies at GCSE; a ‘golden hello’ for teachers and the introduction of Computer Science and Art on the E-Bacc – measures which the government is now responding to.

The Next Gen report demonstrated that firms in our major digital hubs already source talent from overseas because of skills shortages at home. Industry figures, such as Google’s Eric Schmidt, have criticised the UK education system for not teaching children how to make software – only how to use it.

Subsequent campaign research confirms the challenges the UK faces in hi-tech skills:

- the poor take up of Computing at A-level – only 3,517 out of the 782,779 (or 0.4%) qualifications entered at A-level in 2011 were in Computing.
- the massive gender divide – only 7% (241) of Computing A-level students are girls.
- Schools currently lack enough qualified teachers to teach even the existing ICT courses, let alone a new Computer Science course: two thirds of teachers are judged not to have sufficient qualifications to teach ICT in schools today.

Since then major developments are helping to turn the education system around:

- Following consultation earlier this year, from September 2012 the Department for Education has allowed schools to move away from the traditional Programme of Study for Information and Communication Technology GCSE – giving schools the ability to change what they teach and to innovate. This will allow curricula to be refreshed and make room for the fundamental principles of Computer Science to be taught in classrooms.
- Major examination bodies have developed new Key Stage 4 qualifications to meet this demand from September, and over 500 secondary schools have expressed interest in CAS Network of Excellence.
- There has been a massive expansion in ‘informal’ or ‘collaborative’ learning via hack days and after-school clubs, essential to learning to code at an early age.

Next Gen Skills co-chair Ian Livingstone OBE said:
“We’re delighted that government has listened to industry’s call to address the UK’s computer science deficit. Amazing progress has been made over the last 18 months; from scrapping the dull and outdated ICT curriculum to announcing an exciting new approach to teaching Computer Science in schools, and plans for new teacher training courses. Having dedicated, high-calibre computer science teachers in schools will have a powerful effect. They will enable children to be creators of technology rather than being simply passive users of it. Whether it’s making games, fighting cyber-crime or designing the next jet propulsion engine, computer science is at the heart of everything in the digital world. Hopefully the next step will be to have Computer Science on the new E-Bacc to further inspire a new generation of computer programmers.”

Ukie CEO Dr. Jo Twist welcomed measures to support a new generation of Computer Science teachers as the ‘key piece in the jigsaw’ of turning around education in hi-tech skills in English schools:

“We are pleased that the Government has responded to the striking evidence that pupils and educators don’t see the value or suitability in existing qualifications and that major change is needed if we are to repair the talent pipeline in hi tech skills. The ability to programme computers will be fundamental to the digital age, the UK won’t be able to compete unless policy makers reform how they teach ICT and Computer Science. We welcome steps to address this failing in our education system – from schools through to universities – which needs to be urgently tackled. More schools need to be taking up Computer Science at GCSE and in order to do this we need to support the training of a new generation of Computer Science teachers. Next to curriculum reform, teachers are the key piece in the hi-tech skills jigsaw.”

 

Notes to editors
- Next Gen Skills is a major campaign formed from an alliance between the biggest names from the UK digital, creative and hi-tech industries and the UK’s leading skills and educational bodies to improve the computer programming skills needed for the future growth of the UK’s economy. The campaign is led by games and interactive entertainment trade body Ukie (including major international companies with UK interests such as Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA, Activision and SEGA, plus leading UK creative development studios such as Blitz Games Studios, PlayGen and The Creative Assembly). Other supporters include Google, TalkTalk, Facebook, the British Screen Advisory Council, Guardian Media Group, the Design Council, Intellect, IPA, British Computer Society, Abertay University, Skillset, GuildHE, E Skills, the Education Foundation, NESTA and UK Screen (representing some of the world’s leading visual effects businesses, including Oscar winners Double Negative and Framestore). Read the NESTA-Next Gen report here.
- The recent Livingstone Hope Next Gen review of creative industry skills produced by NESTA highlighted that computer programming and coding, the most important skill required to create the digital devices and software of the future, is not currently on the national curriculum. In his speech to BETT on 11 January, the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove responded to the call by industry by starting a consultation on withdrawing the existing National Curriculum Programme of Study for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) from September this year to allow the development of innovative, exciting and rigorous new ICT and Computer Science courses in advance of the launch of the new National Curriculum in 2014. The government confirmed on 11 June that this would happen

.
- Ian Livingstone OBE is one of the UK’s founding fathers of interactive entertainment. In 1975 he co-founded Games Workshop and launched Dungeons & Dragons in Europe. In 1982 he co-designed Fighting Fantasy, and co-wrote The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, the first in the series that sold in excess of 16 million copies in 25 languages. Following a full listing on the London Stock Exchange in 1995, he served as Executive Chairman of Eidos plc until 2002, and is now Life President. At Eidos he helped to secure many of the company’s major franchises including Lara Croft:Tomb Raider. In 2011, he co-authored ‘Next Gen’, transforming the UK into the world’s leading talent hub for video games and visual effects.

 

Ada Lovelace Day – address gender divide in Computer Science studies, says Next Gen Skills

16th October – Reforms to the way ICT and Computer Science are taught need to ensure the massive gender divide is addressed, the Next Gen Skills campaign has said, marking Ada Lovelace Day 2012.

Ada Lovelace Day – 16th October – recognises the achievements of 19th century female Mathematician Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, who is commonly recognised to have created the first computer algorithm for Charles Babbage’s general-purpose computer. “Ada Lovelace Day” is an annual event to “raise the profile of women in science, technology, engineering and maths”.

Dr. Jo Twist, CEO of video games industry trade body Ukie and principal backer of the Next Gen Skills campaign called on policymakers to encourage more female students to take up Computer Science.

The campaign believes that every child should have the opportunity to learn Computing at school, including exposure to Computer Science as a rigorous academic discipline at GCSE. But according to statistics from Joint Council for Qualifications in 2011 only 302 girls took Computing A-level (7.5% of the total entry), compared to 3700 boys (92.5%). The figures show Computer Science as the worst of all STEM subjects for the gender gap, – ICT 61% male /39% female; Mathematics 60%/40%; Physics 79%/21%; Chemistry 53%/47%)

Dr. Jo Twist said:

“With fundamental reforms taking place to Computer Science at school, we should celebrate the existing female role models in the games industry, but also address the massive gender gap, which is more pronounced in Computer Science than in any other STEM subject. We need more female teachers and role models as well as a better understanding that a grounding in computing gives pupils improve career prospects in the digital economy. Ada Lovelace was a pioneer for women, so we need to encourage the increasing number of women in the digital economy to become ambassadors for hi-tech economy in schools.”

Notes to editors:

1. Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852), born Augusta Ada Byron and now commonly known as Ada Lovelace, was an English mathematician and writer chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the analytical engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine; she is considered the world’s first computer programmer. Lovelace Day on Tuesday 16 October recognises the accomplishments of a woman in science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM). Supporters can add their URL to the FindingAda database.

2. Next Gen Skills is a major new campaign formed from an alliance between the biggest names from the UK digital, creative and hi-tech industries and the UK’s leading skills and educational bodies to improve the computer programming skills needed for the future growth of our economy. The campaign is funded and led by games and interactive entertainment trade body Ukie (including major international companies with UK interests such as Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA, Activision and SEGA, plus leading UK creative development studios such as Blitz Games Studios, PlayGen and The Creative Assembly). Other supporters include Google, TalkTalk, Facebook, the British Screen Advisory Council, Guardian Media Group, the Design Council, Intellect, IPA, British Computer Society, Abertay University, Skillset, GuildHE, E Skills, the Education Foundation, NESTA and UK Screen (representing some of the world’s leading visual effects businesses, including Oscar winners Double Negative and Framestore). Read the NESTA-Next Gen report here.

3. The recent Livingstone Hope Next Gen review of creative industry skills produced by NESTA highlighted that computer programming and coding, the most important skill required to create the digital devices and software of the future, is not currently on the national curriculum. In his speech to BETT on 11 January, the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove responded to the call by industry by starting a consultation on withdrawing the existing National Curriculum Programme of Study for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) from September this year to allow the development of innovative, exciting and rigorous new ICT and Computer Science courses in advance of the launch of the new National Curriculum in 2014. The government confirmed on 11 June that this would happen.

4. Data on gender gap can we accessed on the JCQ website or Chapter 2 of the Royal Society Report Shut Down or Restart http://royalsociety.org/uploadedFiles/Royal_Society_Content/education/policy/computing-in-schools/2012-01-12-Computing-in-Schools.pdf

Next Gen Skills backs NESTA’s Computing ‘Plan I’ in UK schools

10th September – Next Gen Skills campaign member and innovation body NESTA today published a new “case for innovation-led growth” – called Plan I. This represents a major contribution to the debate around our future economy which Ukie members should be aware of.

Plan I sets out 12 recommendations for innovation in the UK, including a section on Education (recommendation 11). The concept of innovation is considered in a UK context, noting that the UK government has not invested in future innovation as much as it should do. The Plan aims to stimulate a debate, culminating in the publication of the Manifesto for a creative Economy in 2013.

Plan I seeks to define innovation in the context of emerging economic theory, the advent of the digital revolution and policy initiatives such as the Hargreaves Review of IP and Growth. It calls for a new approach to our infrastructure to be base around innovation as well a substantial investment in R&D.

Video games are mentioned a various points in the report, in relation to skills and problems identified with the growth of UK businesses. They are signalled out as a strength, but also as a part of the economy where value has been created as well as captured by foreign intermediaries.

Education

The report notes moves to incorporate Computer Science into the English Baccalaureate, and adds a number of specific recommendations:

- Britain has one of the largest education sectors in the world. There should be more use of technology to improve the effectiveness of education, giving pupils and teachers new opportunities to interact and learn online. NESTA proposes an ‘NHS-style commissioning process’ across the UK to develop a platform where persistent learning challenges are posted to an open group of suppliers who are incentivised to respond. NESTA also proposes to stimulate collaboration in areas which can deliver high-returns for learning, for example in partnership with the games industry, with ‘challenge’-style prizes for firms and educators.

- Young people’s education should be stimulated by the experience of making digital products, not just using them. Making digital things involves the application of principles learnt in the classroom, this can be achieved by implementing the Next Gen recommendations and transforming understanding of the digital world by a re-booted BBC-style Computer Literacy movement, similar to the one in the 1980s. Recognising the importance of formal and informal learning, a system of ‘digital badges’ should be created and integrated into the education system.

Responding to the recommendations, Next Gen Skills said:

“We welcome NESTA’s push to place innovation centre stage in UK economic policy. Key to this is innovation in our schools, with pupils taught Computer science from an early age, and much more collaborative learning through the use of technology and online resources.”

One year on from Mac Taggart Computer science call

28th August 2012 – It’s one year on from the Mac Taggart Lecture at Edinburgh where Google’s Eric Schmidt criticised the lack of Computer Science education in the UK, to give a sense of distance travelled with ICT reform and Computer Science at GCSE – and work done in relation to the NESTA-Next Gen report policy recommendations:

Next Gen Recommendation 1: Bring Computer Science into the National Curriculum as an essential discipline
- Following the launch of the Next Gen Skills campaign in November, and the Government’s response to the NESTA-Next Gen report, a consultation on ICT reform was launched in January by Secretary of State Michael Gove proposing a new, flexible ICT curriculum – allowing space for Computer Science to be re-introduced at GCSE.
- Submissions from Next Gen Skills supporters argued that the ICT consultation should not inadvertently signal a retreat from ICT by secondary schools. The Government’s response in July 2012 stated that ICT would remain a Foundation subject, with a new Programme of Study from September 2014.
- Major examination bodies have developed or are developing new Computer Science GCSEs and qualifications, removing a historic barrier to take-up, and Computing at Schools (CAS) has been in touch with over 500 secondary schools interested in taking up the new subject at GCSE and resources developed by Naace and e-skills.  The DfE is expected to publish a Draft Programme of Study for ICT early 2013, and we know some schools will start to teach Computer Science from September 2012 – starting to address a major deficit in learning which has resulted in only 3000 students taking A-level Computing this year in the country.

Next Gen Recommendation 2: Sign up the best teachers to teach Computer Science through Initial Teacher Training and ‘Golden Hellos’
- Building on the work by the Royal Society report, Next Gen Skills lobbied the Chancellor before the 2012 Budget to ask for resources to fund CPD and ITT with teachers. Next Gen Skills campaign supporters also made this a key ask in our submissions to the ICT consultation and in subsequent lobbying of the Department for Education through a Network of Excellence for Computer Science teachers. We are hopeful that a positive announcement will be made on this soon.
- Support for 100 Computer Science teachers via Teach First was announced by Google at the Science Museum in May and the CAS Network is developing apace – our aim would be to see a fully-fledged Network to support teachers and learning akin to support given to Computer science teachers nationally in other countries (e.g. the Machshava Centre in Israel).
- In June the Welsh Secretary for Education and Skills, Leighton Andrews, committed £3m to support ‘digital leadership’ in Wales, including teacher training.
- In July Next Gen Skills launched its ‘Call to Action’ for MPs and local authorities to support schools in the take-up of Computer Science and hi tech skills, and we have followed this up with evidence to the Mayor of London’s Education Inquiry (June, to report October) and with other work in London and in the East of England region, Cambridge and the West Midlands.

Next Gen Recommendation 5: Include Art and Computer Science in the English Baccalaureate
- Following work by the Royal Academy of Engineering on existing courses, research is underway to ensure that Computer Science qualifications are rigorous enough, and allow for satisfactory pupil progression, to be included in the E-Bacc. Achieving this would be a significant advance, as it would further signal the importance of this subject to schools and encourage take-up.
- Representations on Art and Design and Technology are continuing to be made via the Creative Skillset Group to the DfE, and via other channels to ensure that new curriculum allows the blending of these subjects into the teaching of Computer Science or to stress their importance in fostering creativity and innovation.

As important is the progress by others to expand ‘informal’ or ‘collaborative’ learning via hack days and after school clubs, which we view as essential to learning at an early age and must be used in conjunction with classroom learning. Since January, a huge amount of work has been done by – amongst others – Young Rewired State (and their August hack Week), Apps for Good, Future Lab, Mozilla, NESTA’s ‘digital makers’ movement and new organisations such as Code Club (now at 130+ primaries). The launch of Raspberry Pi provides exciting (and inexpensive) opportunities for schools and for learners of all ages.

Still much work to do – but there has been much movement from where we were this time last year!

Call to Action – how to get a local conversation on digital and hi tech skills going

Since the launch of our Call to Action on 11 July, Next Gen Skills has been contacted by MPs and local policy makers asking for a steer on how to start a discussion locally.

Here are some tips, based on our experience with the schools and local authorities we have visited.

Develop your local evidence base and explain the challenge

Statistics from across the country show that take-up of Maths, Computing and other STEM subjects are worryingly low.  While the data is held nationally, we often neglect to develop this local evidence-base to spur leadership.

A local discussion needs to set out the local challenges, framing the event in the light of publicly available information around:

  • The speed of the Digital Revolution and pace of technological change
  • Changes in the local economy and labour market
  • Changing curriculum around ICT and Computer Science
  • Take-up of hi tech skills locally

Get your local authority to champion hi tech skills

It might seem counter-intuitive at a time when government reforms are decoupling schools and education authorities that councils should have a role in a new area of study – but local government, with its renewed focus on growth and economic innovation and its continuing links with educators and local firms, can play a key role to help get schools – and children – coding again.

Local authorities are digital players in their own right:  they should be currently developing approaches to be ‘digital by default’ in their customers services, remain large purchasers of IT and regularly work to attract digital firms to the area.  Even if the don’t have a digital strategy, they are likely to have skills and expertise in the digital arena which you can employ.

  • ask the Chief Executives of local authorities what they are doing to support the future of the local digital economy
  • ask the local authority to identify an named officer to help co-ordinate activity and the evidence-base

Bring local digital and creative firms involved

Believe it or not there are very few places where digital businesses, educators and policy makers meet in one place to discuss how technology is taught in schools, and how to link it to local job opportunities.

Most growing businesses will have a digital element at their core, these are not necessarily ‘new media’ but also include advanced manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and research-driven enterprises.

  • ask your local council’s regeneration team or the local Chamber of Commerce to help identify key local businesses

What a local conversation looks like

A conversation could be triggered by a series of keynote speakers, addressing perspectives on how to advance Computer Science locally.  A key element of this is to explain how the educational policy context is changing over the next two years, with the reform of ICT and the introduction of the new National Curriculum.

  • School leaders – Head teachers and school governors are key in setting school priorities and deciding where resources are allocated.  It is critical that they understand the change in the ICT curriculum from September 2012 and the need to give Computer Science and STEM subjects a boost
  • Digital firms – The CEOs and recruiters from local firms can explain the need for hi tech skills on a daily basis
  • Further Higher education – Local universities will have Computer Science departments, and may be a valuable resource for teacher training and support.  Discussion with FE and HE may also highlight barriers in the education system and the need for further support
  • Use local creatives – Combining Computer Science with Art and Design&Technology is key to the future of creative industries, but so often children are forced into choosing between science and the arts at 16
  • Get the Digital Voluntary Sector involved:  up and down the country people are starting up ‘hack clubs’ and other sessions to get kids coding – the mix between formal and informal learning is key to stimulating the creative spark
  • Young People – the enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge of young people is infectious, hold the discussion at the end of a ‘hack day’ or visit an after-school club to see kids coding live – allow young people the chance to show you what they can achieve with just a little support

Set Outcomes and Challenges for the Future

There will many aspects to local conversations, differing from place to place, and it is useful to determine desired outcomes, e.g.:

  • Increasing schools’ take-up of Computer Science (encouraging schools to offer new GCSEs in Computer Science, or moving away from the old Programme of Study in ICT)
  • Understanding what schools need to develop or refresh their ICT, Computer Science or STEM curricula
  • Enhancement of understanding about digital career opportunities (how to get into a career in digital industries, and the skills and qualifications students need is not always obvious)
  • Identifying the needs of digital employers locally

Use the discussion to identify key policy challenges for the future, so you can follow up and monitor progress:

  • Do local stakeholders need further help understanding digital change?
  • How can discussion move beyond the enthusiasm of ‘early adopters’?
  • Do schools need extra resources for CPD for existing teachers?
  • Do firms need help engaging with schools and with work placements?

For helpful background materials on all of the above see our Computer Science Resources section of the Next Gen Skills website.

Lord’s university STEM findings underline Computer Science and Maths challenge

The Lords Committee report on STEM skills in higher education was published this week, with worrying findings on the teaching of Mathematics and Computer Science. Policy makers should seize on these statistics and articulate and clearer vision and more fundamental vision for technology and hi-tech skills.

Without a doubt STEM postgraduates play an important role in driving economic growth by innovation, research and entrepreneurship. It is difficult to see how the UK will drive economic growth through education and hi-tech industries without more graduates.

The Committee confirmed that many students starting STEM degrees, even those with A-level maths qualifications, lack the maths required to undertake studies in subjects such as engineering and physics and are having to take remedial courses. The lack of key skills extends from too few young people studying maths beyond GCSE to too few students taking postgraduate degrees in science, technology, engineering, computer science and maths subjects.

Moreover, the rising number of graduates in “soft sciences” e.g. forensic and sport science have soared and that these graduates are less employable than those with degrees in more traditional sciences.

The Committee recommends that Maths should be compulsory for all students post-16 – a rec very unlikely to be achieved without massive investment in teachers, and support for schools.

The worrying drop is unsurprising considering the extremely low level of entries to Computing A-level in our schools.

Previous to the Lords report, the assumption was that students were being advised to study Maths A-level, not Computing. Yet the report shocking shows that only 39% of Computer Science HE students studied Maths at A-level (Fig 1, p23) – compared with 98% of Physics students. We probably need to question the rigour of ‘Computer Science’ at UK universities as well.

A proper, unified strategy is needed here: from primary school, through universities to the world of work.  Policy makers must devote resources to teacher training and foster an environment where schools link up with local employers far more than they do now, starting with agreeing the steps set out in out Call-to-Action.

Get Schools Coding Call to Action launched

The Next Gen Skills ‘Get Schools Coding’ Call to Action was welcomed at Ukie’s summer reception by the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey MP. The document sets out the principles we want policy makers to sign up to and lists some of the resources available to support the development of Computer Science in schools locally.

We are making the Call because being able to programme computers will be fundamental to the digital age, the UK won’t be able to compete unless policy makers and schools respond to this call and reform how they teach ICT and Computer Science.

The Next Gen report demonstrated that firms in our major digital hubs already source talent from overseas because of skills shortages at home.

This is mainly a failing of our education system – from schools through to universities – which needs to be urgently tackled if we are to remain globally competitive. More schools need to be taking up Computer Science at GCSE from September and in order to do this we need to support the training of a new generation of Computer Science teachers.

Data from the DfE we have researched further confirms the challenges we face:

- the poor take up of Computing at A-level – more evidence that pupils and educators don’t see the value or suitability in existing qualifications and that major change is needed if we are to repair the talent pipeline in hi tech skills.
- the massive gender divide – only 7% (241) of Computing A-level students are girls.
- Schools currently lack enough qualified teachers to teach even the existing ICT courses, let alone a new Computer Science course: two thirds of teachers are judged not to have sufficient qualifications to teach ICT in schools today.

Following consultation earlier this year, from September 2012 the Department for Education will allow schools to move away from the traditional Programme of Study for Information and Communication Technology GCSE, giving schools the ability to change what they teach and to innovate. This will allow curricula to be refreshed and make room for the fundamental principles of Computer Science to be taught in classrooms.

Major examination bodies are developing new GCSEs to meet this demand from September, and over 500 secondary schools have expressed interest in CAS Network of Excellence.

What we are asking for now is local action and a strategy to encourage more schools to take up Computer Science from September 2012 – to ask schools what they need to do more. ”In Wales concerted action is being taken to create a strategy and an infrastructure to support change, with £3m announced last month to help teachers and schools skill up.

London, major English cities and English regions have no such strategy – please help us change this.

———————————–
- Next Gen Skills is a major campaign formed from an alliance between the biggest names from the UK digital, creative and hi-tech industries and the UK’s leading skills and educational bodies to improve the computer programming skills needed for the future growth of the UK’s economy. The campaign is led by games and interactive entertainment trade body Ukie (including major international companies with UK interests such as Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA, Activision and SEGA, plus leading UK creative development studios such as Blitz Games Studios, PlayGen and The Creative Assembly). Other supporters include Google, TalkTalk, Facebook, the British Screen Advisory Council, Guardian Media Group, the Design Council, Intellect, IPA, British Computer Society, Abertay University, Skillset, GuildHE, E Skills, the Education Foundation, NESTA and UK Screen (representing some of the world’s leading visual effects businesses, including Oscar winners Double Negative and Framestore).

- The recent Livingstone Hope Next Gen review of creative industry skills produced by NESTA highlighted that computer programming and coding, the most important skill required to create the digital devices and software of the future, is not currently on the national curriculum. In his speech to BETT on 11 January, the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove responded to the call by industry by starting a consultation on withdrawing the existing National Curriculum Programme of Study for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) from September this year to allow the development of innovative, exciting and rigorous new ICT and Computer Science courses in advance of the launch of the new National Curriculum in 2014. The government confirmed on 11 June that this would happen.

- Data sets are taken from the Department for Education A-level examination results of 16-18 year olds in maintained schools (including LA schools, Academies, CTCs, FE) by Local Authority and subject – Number of entries Table 15a in GCE A-level examination results of 16-18 year olds by Local Authority and subject, 2010/11, England dataset can be used as a comparison with other subjects.

- Wales took a major step forwards for Computer Science on 21nd June with the announcement by Leighton Andrews, the Minister for Education and Skills, at Technocamps at Swansea University that the government would be investing £3m in supporting digital leadership. The announcement has put Wales at the forefront of change in the United Kingdom meeting a key demand of the Computer Science community to create an infrastructure to support and train teachers.

- The Next Gen Skills Get Schools Coding Call to Action can be accessed on the Next Gen Skills website.

 

Wales leads on Computer Science support

Wales took a major step forwards for Computer Science on 22nd June with the announcement by Leighton Andrews, the Minister for Education and Skills, at Technocamps at Swansea University that the government would be investing £3m in supporting digital leadership.  The announcement has put Wales at the forefront of change in the United Kingdom – meeting a key demand of the Computer Science community to create an infrastructure to support and train teachers.

 

The new network reflects the asks of our ‘routemap‘ earlier this year.  The initiatives announced include:

- The National Digital Learning Council “to provide expert guidance on the use of digital technology in teaching and learning in Wales”
- A bilingual learning platform – provisionally called Hwb – for learners and teachers to “share resources, knowledge and experience”
- A National Digital Collection – a “repository for thousands of curriculum and good practice resources for teachers and learners to upload”
- Encouraging the use of iTunes U – designed to create and share courses
- Establishing “digital leaders” from across Wales

 

In our ICT reform submission to the (English) Department for Education we argued that the embedding of rigorous new Computer Science curricula in schools requires that resources be identified to build a new teaching infrastructure by training current – and new – teachers.  There needs to be recognition that we are introducing a new subject and that unlike other GCSE subjects we will need to train or re-train a new generation of teachers.

Given the gap between the potential removal of Information and Communications Technology Programme of Study in September 2012 and the introduction of the new National Curriculum, we are keen that no momentum is lost with regard to the crucial area of teaching and teaching support.  Teacher training requires the active recruitment of ICT and Computer Science specialists – right from primary into secondary school.

In other countries the ‘teacher issue’ is seen as both fundamental and extremely problematic, given the status of the subject as a new discipline and the propensity for teachers to be self-taught.  We believe the issue of appropriate qualifications and Continuing Professional Development for Information and Communications Technology and Computer Science teachers to be extremely important – the Royal Society has concluded that there is a shortage of teachers who are able to teach beyond basic digital literacy: only 35% of ICT teachers hold a relevant post-A-level qualification in the subject.

Next Gen Skills believes it is vital that new Computer Science teachers are also equipped with a strong grounding in Computer Science during their training if they do not have existing qualifications in Computer Science.  In his speech to BETT, the Secretary of State supported additional Continuing Professional Development for teachers in Information and Communications Technology and Computer Science to ensure educators receive the best possible Initial Teacher Training and Continuing Professional Development in the use of educational technology.  He also pledged to work with the Teacher Development Agency to develop teacher training courses in the coming year so that all teachers get the knowledge and experience they need to use technology confidently.

Now that Wales has shown the way, what practical action is planned in England either regionally or nationally?  Since January little further has been said about this support.  Next Gen Skills will shortly be pressing MPs, London Government and local authorities to develop their support for Computer Science training during the curriculum changes.  Surely this is an area for action by the Department for Education.

Policy Update on ICT Consultation response

On 11 June the Department for Education published its response to the ICT Consultation, setting out its plan of action for ICT and Computer Science on the National Curriculum in England.  The response mirrors many of the points we (collectively) have made, and some of the concerns raised – specifically our call for a change management approach to curriculum reform in this area.

DfE ICT Consultation top-lines

-       consensus amongst respondents that the existing Programmes of Study and Attainment Targets for ICT were no longer fit for purpose, and many teachers responding to the consultation welcomed the opportunity to develop and deliver more ambitious ICT provision, including computer science.

-       fears that the announcement on disapplication as signalled a downgrading of ICT we countered by a Government commitment to send a strong and clear message to schools about the continuing importance of ICT education.

-       acceptance by DfE that there needs to be more and better teacher training to support delivery of a more demanding ICT curriculum, and a greater focus in schools on continuing professional development for existing teachers.

-       disapplication will be an interimmeasure that will be effective from September 2012 until September 2014, when the outcomes of the National Curriculum review will come into force

ICT and Computer Science GCSE update and analysis

In January 2012 the Department for Education issued a consultation on the ‘dis-application’ of the established ICT Programme of Study, assessment and attainment targets in order to create space for a ‘de-centralised curriculum’ which could include Computer Science.   In our submission, Next Gen Skills agreed that the current ICT requirements should be replaced in order to introduce a new curriculum which includes Computer Science – but recognised that dis-application carried significant downsides which needed to be addressed by Government.

As expected the DfE has decided to proceed with disapplication of the current ICT Programmes of Study at all key stages from September 2012, and of the associated Attainment Targets and Key Stage 3 statutory assessment arrangements from the same date.  The DfE argues:  “In a system where more and more schools are embracing greater autonomy, we believe that those schools wishing to deliver more demanding ICT provision should have the freedom to do so now.”

However, the DfE made some important changes to its stance which safeguard ICT and Computer Science from the identified risk of schools actually withdrawing from ICT altogether in the period between the dis-application of ICT in September 2012 and the introduction of the new National Curriculum in September 2014 by signalling that new measures will come into place via the National Curriculum in 2014.  This means that ICT will remain a compulsory subject at all key stages, pending the outcome of the current National Curriculum Review in England.

Next Gen Skills welcomes the fact that the DfE has listened and that we now have the opportunity to shape future programmes of study with confidence – and also continue crucial discussions with the DfE and others on proper teacher training and support.

Reflecting the call for leadership, the Government has made clear to schools (correcting misapprehensions it had picked up during the consultation) that it considers ICT to be an important subject that should be taught to all pupils.  “As a clear statement of the importance that it attaches to ICT education, the Government has decided that ICT will continue to be a National Curriculum subject, with new statutory Programmes of Study at all four key stages, from September 2014. The Department for Education will look to work with experts from industry, IT organisations and the teaching profession to develop the new Programmes of Study as a national standard for all schools, whilst providing sufficient flexibility and scope to meet the changing demands of the subject.”

The rationale is set out in this key section (our bold, underlined):

“If, subject to the outcome of consultation, the ICT Programmes of Study, Attainment Targets and statutory assessment arrangements are disapplied it will represent an interim measure that will be effective from September 2012 until September 2014, when the outcomes of the National Curriculum review will come into force.  The status of ICT within the school curriculum is currently being considered by the National Curriculum review alongside that of all other National Curriculum subjects (aside from English, mathematics, science and PE). The Expert Panel for the National Curriculum review has already recommended in its report  that ICT should be reclassified as part of the Basic School Curriculum, meaning that it would remain compulsory for schools to teach but that there would not be a statutory Programme of Study or Attainment Targets; and also that requirements should be established so that use of ICT becomes part of all National Curriculum subjects. 

The [National Curriculum] Expert Panel report also recommends that the proposition for more widespread teaching of computer science in secondary schools should be properly considered as the review continues – echoing the Government response to the Livingstone-Hope Report which acknowledges the value of computer science and the contribution that the knowledge underpinning the subject makes to supporting economically important sectors of the economy. The Secretary of State echoed this in his speech at the BETT show on 11 January where he emphasised the importance of computer science as a rigorous, fascinating and intellectually challenging subject and his support for the development of high quality computer science GCSEs and curricula by universities and business. 

While the National Curriculum review continues, we believe we should not compel schools to follow the existing Programmes of Study that are viewed as lacking in ambition and not fit for purpose; that hamper development of rigorous, forward-looking ICT-related GCSEs; and inhibit schools from engaging with innovative ICT education initiatives, including the development of more rigorous computer science courses. This also supports one of the Government’s key aims in conducting the  National Curriculum review – that there should be less central
prescription and more flexibility for teachers to decide how best to teach.

The Department wants to ensure that those best placed to transform ICT education are able to do so – by removing barriers and facilitating innovative practice, and by working with the sector to encourage the development and spread of exciting innovations.  This should also help schools to take greater advantage of the opportunities that technology offers to improve teaching across the curriculum, both within and beyond the classroom. The effective use of technology has huge potential to support good teaching and help raise standards, but this is not always reflected in practice. This proposal should be seen as part of wider moves to free up schools to innovate and explore promising opportunities with technology. This includes the use of technology to improve teaching, management and leadership, as well as the use of professional digital technologies in lessons. We believe it is vital that teachers feel confident using technological tools for their own and their pupils’ benefit – and we are taking steps to ensure that teachers both receive the best possible initial teacher training and continuing professional development in the use of educational technology, and are encouraged to learn from other schools which are doing particularly well. Our ambition is for a system which is capable of learning from the best new developments and adapting to them quickly.

“This proposal marks the beginning of a journey, the destination of which will see all schools able to give their pupils an ICT education that will enable them to flourish and succeed as they move into work and/or further study.”

 

ICT and Computer Science at primary school

In another document released today, the Government also set out thinking on the content of the curriculum at a primary level.  In his letter to Tim Oates, chair of the Expert Panel on the National Curriculum, the Secretary of State stated that “we will maintain a requirement for the teaching of art and design, design and technology, geography, history, ICT, music and physical education across all primary years.”  Developing on the theme of school flexibility, Gove added that “Programmes of Study in these subjects will, however, be much shorter to allow for the maximum level of innovation at school level in the development of content in these areas.”  We expect this to be the approach taken throughout with regard to ICT (and Computer Science) suggesting a much more fluid system of technology education than before, but necessitating greater industry and employer involvement in schools – whether formally or informally.


Next Steps

As a statutory requirement, the Department for Education has now launched a public consultation on the draft regulations that will bring this decision into force. The consultation will run for one month, until 11 July 2012. The consultation document and details on how to respond can be viewed at www.education.gov.uk/consultations

 

 

Will schools to be required to publish ICT and Computer Science offer online from September?

The Department of Education has moved swiftly to counter the fears expressed by teachers and others during the consultation that schools would use what they may perceive as a fallow period between the removal of the existing Programme of Study in September 2012 and the new National Curriculum (2014) to retreat from ICT altogether.

 

Schools staging a ‘tactical retreat’ from ICT and fears that there would be a loss of momentum was a key concern of the Next Gen Skills submission – in common with many others.

Responses to the consultation reflected this.

- Just under half (47%) of respondents expressed concern that dis-applying Programmes of Study and Attainment Targets would result in some schools reducing their commitment to teaching ICT or withdrawing from the subject altogether.

- Over a third (36%) believed that dis-application could have a negative effect in schools where ICT was currently poorly managed or seen as low priority.  Some said that these schools were more likely to be situated in disadvantaged areas and that the impact was potentially greater on pupils from low income families as they were less likely to have opportunities to learn to use ICT at home.

- Several respondents stated that some schools are already reducing their ICT provision and numbers of teachers as a result of the announcement.

 

The DfE’s Dr. Vanessa Pittard moved to correct this today at a Westminster Forum Conference at Church House. Pittard, who is the the Head of the Technology Policy Unit at the DfE, led on the consultation for the Department – set out the official view on yesterday’s documents:

 

- From September 2012 schools do not have to use the existing Programme of Study (PoS), but can if they want to.  They are also free to adapt the PoS or use or develop another one.  There is no need (as now) to follow schemes of work.

- ICT now forms part of the bigger review of the National Curriculum from September 2014.  The aim of this is to establish an internationally respected, slimmed down National Curriculum benchmark of achievement that will raise expectations for all children.

- There has been a shift in emphasis on ICT from the Expert Panel review last December.  This proposed that ICT should be in the Basic Curriculum (i.e. it was compulsory, but schools are free to decide what to teach) as opposed to being a Foundation or Core subject (see how the school curriculum is set up here and what is being considered here).  After the Government’s response, ICT will now be considered a Foundation subject.  However, taking the lead from the National Curriculum statement on primary education announced on 11 June, future Programmes of Study will be much shorter in order to allow for innovation.  One rumour is that civil servants have been told to keep the new Programme of Study to one side of A4 only. 

- Schools should not interpret the headlines as an opportunity to retreat from ICT at all:  it will be included on the National Curriculum in September 2014 and a Draft Programme of Study for ICT will follow for consultation later in 2012.  Schools should use the time to assess, develop and innovate in this area.

 

Finally, the Department is keen to plug the issue of accountability as a driver for change.  Next Gen Skills notices that primary schools will be required to publish what they teach.  In his letter to Expert Panel Chair Tim Oates, the Secretary of State writes:  “I want schools to have high expectations for all subjects – regardless of whether they are tested nationally – and set these high expectations out in their own school curricula, which, from September, must be published online and lay out what is taught year-by-year.”

Next Gen Skills asks:  if this is the case for primary schools from September, is it also the case for ICT at GCSE level given its place in the vanguard of curriculum reform?

It is unclear whether this is the full intention of policy at the moment, but what better way to ensure that the Government’s message that ICT is not being ‘ditched’ than to ensure all schools publish their ICT plans and studies online from September this year?  Surely this is a good driver for reform?

 

Next Gen Skills welcomes reform of ICT and new curriculum freedoms to explore Computer Science in schools

11 June 2012, London – The Next Gen Skills cross-industry, Computer Science coalition, also welcomes the chance to develop a more challenging, rigorous and discipline-related ICT curriculum with an increased focus on computer science.

 

The government has today published the findings of its consultation on a proposal to remove the duty on schools to teach ICT, or use the associated Attainment Targets and statutory assessment arrangements, from September 2012.

 

The Government has decided to proceed with disapplication of ICT and will be developing a fresh approach to teaching technology in schools to be introduced in 2014. In the interim period, schools will still be required to teach ICT to pupils at all key stages but teachers will have the flexibility to decide what is best for their pupils without central Government prescription – this includes the ability to teach a rigorous computer science course.

 

The Next Gen Skills coalition, led by video games trade body Ukie, is made up of organisations that share the goal of improving how children use and create technology in schools – particularly calling for the introduction of computer science on to the national curriculum.

 

Ian Livingstone, co-author and Chair of the Next Gen Skills coalition said: ”We welcome today’s announcement from government as it broadly follows the approach outlined in our response to the ICT consultation. We welcome the disapplication of ICT in its current form and the opportunity that this gives schools to teach children rigorous computer science.

 

“Creating an education system where Computer Science is taught is fundamental for our economy and future competitiveness.  We believe that the Government should set out a vision for Computer Science so that every child learns the concepts and principles of Information Technology and Computer Science from primary school age onwards, and later to specialise in Computer Science if they wish.

 

“Since January all the major awarding bodies have now announced their intention to offer a GCSE in Computer Science, thereby removing a massive roadblock to the introduction of Computer Science in schools.  Ultimately Computer Science should be an option on the English Baccalaureate, to ensure that it is seen by teachers and parents as a high status ‘fourth science.’  Next Gen Skills is currently working with professional bodies to ensure that new qualifications are sufficiently challenging and engaging enough for pupils, schools and industry.”

 

1. Next Gen Skills is a major new campaign formed from an alliance between the biggest names from the UK digital, creative and hi-tech industries and the UK’s leading skills and educational bodies to improve the computer programming skills needed for the future growth of the UK’s economy.   The campaign is led by games and interactive entertainment trade body Ukie (including major international companies with UK interests such as Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA, Activision and SEGA, plus leading UK creative development studios such as Blitz Games Studios, PlayGen and The Creative Assembly). Other supporters include Google, TalkTalk, Facebook, the British Screen Advisory Council, Guardian Media Group, the Design Council, Intellect, IPA, British Computer Society, Abertay University, Skillset, GuildHE, E Skills, the Education Foundation, NESTA and UK Screen (representing some of the world’s leading visual effects businesses, including Oscar winners Double Negative and Framestore).

 

2. The recent Livingstone Hope ‘Next Gen’ review of creative industry skills produced by NESTA highlighted that computer programming and coding, the most important skill required to create the digital devices and software of the future, is not currently on the national curriculum.   In his speech to BETT on 11 January, the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove responded to the call by industry by announcing a consultation – ending 11 April – on withdrawing the existing National Curriculum Programme of Study for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) from September this year to allow the development of innovative, exciting and rigorous new ICT and Computer Science courses in advance of the launch of the new National Curriculum in 2014.

Israel leads way on Computer Science in schools

What does leadership in Computer Science look like elsewhere in the world and which country can be seen as leading the way?

From a Next Gen Skills perspective, we urge you to look at Israel.

Research undertaken by the Computer Science Teachers Association of America, The New Educational Imperative: Improving High School Computer Science Education, in February 2005 shows that many countries have been on a journey not dissimilar to our shift from a curriculum based on computer programming in schools in the 1970s and early 1980s to an ICT / ‘informatics’ dominated curriculum from the mid 1990s – to mid-2000s.

An international outline of the IT debate in schools was sketched by the Guardian as part of their Digital Literacy campaign earlier this year, based on research by Computing at School for the Royal Society.  This highlights work done by a number of different countries, including Singapore and (closest to home) in Scotland (from 2010).

 

But the clearest example of leadership – by this we mean a strategy based upon the alignment of interests and common objectives set by government, industry and educators – can be found in Israel.

 

The evolution of the Israeli curriculum was first comprehensively set out in a seminal article 1995 by Prof. Judith Gal-Ezer, with a subsequent ‘Model’ for High School education based on their experience evolving the Israeli curriculum from ICT into Computer Science two decades ago.  Although first published over 17 years ago, Prof. Gal-Ezer’s work on advancing Computer Science in schools used to teaching ICT bears striking similarities to the position we face here in the UK, namely the perceived ‘low status’ of the subject  in sachools; the lack of training and low qualifications of teachers and the lack of ‘fundamental principles’ in the existing curriculum.

In contrast to the proposed ‘decentralised’ / ‘wiki’ curriculum in England, which proposes that government take a back-seat, the Israeli curriculum was developed by a committee nominated by the Minister of Education, including four university professors of Computer Science, teachers, and the official Ministry of Education supervisor of Computer Science education.  According to Prof. Gal-Ezer, each of professors contributed his or her own ideology to how a curriculum should look – yielding the principles presented in the 1995 paper.  Along which the curriculum and material were developed (see also What (else) should CS educators know? (1998); Curriculum and Course Syllabi for High-School Computer Science Program (1999); Teaching Software Designing Skills (2000)).

An important component embedding learning in schools and with teachers is Machshava Israeli National Computer Science Teaching Centre.  Founded in 2000 by the Israeli Ministry of Education, Machshava is considered as the professional home for all Israeli computer science teachers.   Prof. Gal-Ezer stressed the importance of teacher support to Next Gen Skills:  “We supported the teacher at the beginning. Now we have in Israel the Computer Science teacher’s Centre [Machshava, below]…[which] fosters the professional leadership of computer science teachers by providing an opportunity for leading teachers to serve as a model for other teachers, promote pedagogical objectives, and inspire their colleagues.”

 

The centre activities are organized around five major themes:

1. Helping create a professional community of computer science teachers;

2. Fostering the professional leadership of computer science teachers;

3. Supporting, assisting and consulting academic computer science education groups, and computer science teacher educators and researchers;

4. Collecting and distributing computer science education knowledge and experience;5

5. Researching and evaluating computer science teachers’ needs and the centre’s activities.

 

Examples of “Machshava” activities include:

- An annual teacher conference with plenary lectures, parallel sessions, discussions, posters, and an exhibition of CSE materials;

- Courses and meetings on specific issues from the high school CS curriculum, such as recursion or software design;

- Publication of annotated papers on different topics, such as novice difficulties, learning and teaching recursion;

- Publication of learning materials suited for the Israeli curriculum, such as questions and laboratories;

- Publication of a journal for teachers, called “Hebetim” (meaning “Aspects in CSE”) twice a year.

 

To experts, ongoing evaluation of these events has shown that they have played a critical role in the establishment of a powerful community of computer science leading teachers.

Previously Next Gen Skills has called for Government to set out a Vision for Computer Science which shows how government, industry and educators can work together.

The model from Israel shows one route to success – can we build such support here in the UK?

Strategy needed to calm fears of ‘tactical retreat from ICT’ by schools

In a decentralised curriculum, where schools have freedom how to teach ICT – how can we be sure that standards will improve or that Computer Science will feature at all?

 

Our key Next Gen Skills recommendations to DfE following their ICT consultation (Jan-Apr 2012) focus on the need for Government, industry and educators to ensure that there is enough strategic leadership to ensure that Computer Science becomes a reality at GCSE in our schools.  In our submission Next Gen Skills agreed that the current ICT requirements should be replaced in order to introduce a new curriculum (which includes Computer Science) but recognised that the dis-application of the Programme of Study and Attainment Targets nationally carry potential downsides which must be addressed by Government) industry and educators alike.

 

Without appropriate discussion around direction, accepted principles, benchmarking and leadership the risks are that some schools could withdraw from ICT (and Computer Science) because the subject is not fundamentally seen (or assessed) as part of what makes a school ‘successful’.

 

The fear of tactical retreat from ICT altogether was very pronounced when Next Gen Skills talked to ICT teachers in a 3 hour session in March.  Teachers feared the creation of an immediate “vacuum” by removing the statutory Programme of Study:  put most starkly “the DfE haven’t created opportunity, they have created a black hole.”  Anecdotal evidence also suggests that school leaders have interpreted the consultation as a signal to end ICT provision altogether.  Without further support and general leadership, in the words of one teacher, “there is a danger of [ICT and Computer Science] being a Dodo subject.”

 

We strongly urge the Department for Education to set out a wider strategy for change when it responds to the consultation (expected early June, we hear).  This change should chart how we move from the current situation, where schools teach an inflexible, set ICT curriculum to one where ICT is revamped and there is space for Computer Science with enough support for teachers to teach this new subject.

 

It goes like this:

 

(1) HM Government should set out a Vision for Computer Science outlining the proper role for government and industry in achieving shared outcomes.  We suggest:

 

“Every child should learn the concepts and principles of Information Technology and Computer Science from primary school age onwards, and later to specialise in Computer Science if they wish.”

 

(2) If the statutory ICT Programme of Study and Assessment is ‘dis-applied’ by the DfE in September this year, as proposed in the consultation, then policy makers must build assurance by establishing a strategy to (re)establish Computer Science in schools from 2012 to September 2014 and beyond – including monitoring the take up of Computer Science across schools.

 

(3) The Route Map for government, industry and educators should also commit to the following steps:

 

  • All pupils must be digitally literate before they leave school.
  • Computer Science should be recognised in schools as a rigorous, high-status school subject discipline, on a par with Maths, Physics, or History. Like the other sciences, it will have a practical as well as a conceptual aspect and should be taught alongside compatible subjects like Maths, Physics, Art or Design.
  • All school governing bodies should discuss how they teach digital literacy, ICT and Computer Science in schools.
  • Together with industry, professional bodies, schools and universities the Department for Education should set an ambitious target for Computer Science in schools to be well under way before the end of this Parliament.
  • This goal should be pursued with industry through both formal channels (the school curriculum and qualifications) and informal ones (e.g. after school clubs, hack spaces etc).
  • Adequate investment should be secured to kick-start the training / re-training of a new generation of Computer Science teachers.

Next Gen Skills calls for ‘London Vision’ for Computer Science in schools

Video games legend Ian Livingstone OBE, chair of the hi tech industry campaign Next Gen Skills, today (30th April) called for the Mayor of London to set out a radical new vision for computer science and programming in London schools so that every child in London can learn the concepts and principles of Information Technology and Computer Science from primary school age onwards, and later to specialise in Computer Science if they wish.

In its submission to the Mayor’s Education Inquiry, Next Gen Skills argues that a modern ICT and Computer Science schooling is key to the future growth of London’s economy.  As highlighted by the influential ‘Next Gen’ study digital industries currently face a real skills gap in this area, creating a barrier to the competitiveness of hi-tech Britain.  Despite the importance of the knowledge of the fundamental principles underpinning the digital world, there is a mismatch between the students schools and universities are producing and the needs of London’s industries.  Despite being home to some of the most dynamic creative industries in the world, the available evidence suggests that London suffers from the same deficits in Computer Science provision as other areas of the country.

The Department of Education is currently considering whether to remove the outdated ICT curriculum as a requirement in September this year – potentially making room for computer science – however the Next Gen Skills says that London needs a strategy across its 1700 primary and 350 secondary schools to ensure that schools take advantage of the opportunity to teach kids the skills London’s digital industries need.  At the very least, warns the campaign, the Mayor and boroughs need to ensure that schools don’t retreat from teaching ICT to focus on subjects their success in league tables is assessed upon.

While all London maintained schools have a duty to teach the current set ICT curriculum, it is not known how many schools plan to pursue Computer Science in the future, nor how many allow for computer programming now, nor the quality of current teaching.  Evidence from the Academy sector shows that ICT is more likely to be dropped by schools in favour of other subjects perceived as core to the school’s success, with only a few ‘early adopters’ taking up Computer Science.   The study of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering or maths) is low in London state schools, while ICT teaching in secondary schools has recently been criticised by OfSTED.

Campaign chair Ian Livingstone OBE, one of the founding fathers of interactive entertainment (see below) said:

“High-tech, knowledge-based industries are major generators of jobs and growth for London, and need skilled computer programmers to maintain their growth. At the moment London’s schools just aren’t producing enough students with the right knowledge and skills that industry needs.  Creative industries, for example, are crying out for graduates who know how to programme and are forced to recruit from abroad. 

“Since the 1980s there has been a long retreat from Computer Science being taught in our classrooms,  a point made in our ‘Next Gen’ review.  We need to ensure that the flow of high calibre talent from education to industry is enhanced and not allowed to decline any further.  For this to happen we need real intervention in schools,  right here in London which is why we are calling for a big debate,  led by the Mayor of London, on digital knowledge in schools.”

Key recommendations and London Call to Action:

-          The Major of London should set out a Vision for Computer Science in London outlining the proper role for London government and industry in achieving shared outcomes.

“Every child in London should learn the concepts and principles of Information Technology and Computer Science from primary school age onwards, and later to specialise in Computer Science if they wish.”

-          If the statutory ICT Programme of Study and Assessment is dis-applied by the Department for Education (DfE) in September this year, then London policy makers must build assurance by establishing a strategy to (re) establish Computer Science in London schools from 2012 to September 2014 and beyond – including monitoring the take up of Computer Science across the 32 boroughs.

-          The Next Gen Skills London Call to Action also states:

*         All pupils must be digitally literate before they leave school.

*         Computer Science should be recognised in London schools as a rigorous, high-status school subject discipline, on a par with Maths, Physics, or History. Like the other sciences, it will have a practical as well as a conceptual aspect and should be taught alongside compatible subjects like Maths, Physics, Art or Design.

*         The Mayor should asking all school governing bodies in London to discuss how they teach digital literacy, ICT and Computer Science in schools.

*         With industry, professional bodies, schools and universities the Mayor should set an ambitious target for Computer Science in London schools by the end of his or her next term, (e.g. half of all schools teaching Computer Science by 2016).

*         This goal should be pursued with industry through both formal channels (the school curriculum and qualifications) and informal ones (e.g. after school clubs, hack spaces, hobbyist learning).

*         Adequate investment should be secured to kick-start the training / re-training of a new generation of Computer Science teachers in London schools.

Notes to editors:

1.       The Mayor’s London Inquiry Call for Evidence ends 24th April at 5pm http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/young-people/education-training/mayors-education-inquiry

2.       The UK’s digital deficit is set out in NESTA, Next Gen:  Transforming the UK into the world’s leading talent hub for the video games and visual effects industries A Review by Ian Livingstone and Alex Hope (2011). http://www.nesta.org.uk/library/documents/NextGenv32.pdf

3.       Ian Livingstone OBE is one of the UK’s founding fathers of interactive entertainment. In 1975 he co-founded Games Workshop and launched Dungeons & Dragons in Europe. In 1982 he co-designed Fighting Fantasy,  and co-wrote The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, the first in the series that sold in excess of 16 million copies in 25 languages. Following a full listing on the London Stock Exchange in 1995, he served as Executive Chairman of Eidos plc until 2002, and is now Life President. At Eidos he helped to secure many of the company’s major franchises including Lara Croft:Tomb Raider. In 2011, he co-authored ‘Next Gen’, transforming the UK into the world’s leading talent hub for video games and visual effects.

Next Gen Skills outlines route map for teaching of ICT and Computer Science in schools

 

The UKIE-led, Next Gen Skills Campaign, today (11 April 2012) called the government to work with industry to set out a ‘route map’ to revolutionise how Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Computer Science is taught in schools.  This plan of action involves a new vision for Computer Science as a rigorous subject in its own right; incorporation of Computer Science in the English Baccalautreate; and investment in a new generation of Computer Science teachers.

 

The Next Gen Skills campaign’s submission to the government’s consultation on the ICT curriculum, argues that children should be taught the principles of ICT and Computer Science from primary school age onward, and later have the opportunity to specialise in Computer Science if they wish. Computer Science should be recognised as a fully-fledged scientific subject, to be taught in school on a par with other scientific subjects.  Like the other sciences, it should have a practical as well as a conceptual aspect and can be taught alongside compatible subjects like Maths, Physics, Art or Design.

 

Next Gen Skills firmly believes that the Department of Education should minimise the risk of some schools misinterpreting the removal of the established Programme of Study to stage a ‘tactical retreat’ from ICT, to the detriment of Computer Science and digital skills as a whole.

 

The Next Gen Skills consultation response states:  “We are particularly concerned that without a clear vision on Computer Science from Primary school onwards this could occur in the period between the withdrawal of the Programme of Study in September 2012 and the introduction of the new National Curriculum in September 2014.  There is some evidence from the academy sector that where schools have the opportunity to choose not to provide the ICT Programme of Study, the most common change is to stop providing ICT or design technology at Key Stage 4  – using time for modern languages and, only in some cases, Computer Science.”  Any uncertainty caused by the removal of statutory assessments and attainment targets must be addressed by the ‘Route Map’ agreed with industry, professional bodies and universities and schools.

 

Key Next Gen recommendations

 

  1. 1. Next Gen Skills agrees that the current ICT Programme of Study, statutory attainment targets and KS3 assessment arrangements should be replaced in order to introduce a new curriculum which includes Computer Science.  While the replacement of the current Programme of Study is supported, the dis-application of the Programme of Study and Attainment Targets carries potential risks which must be addressed by Government, industry and educators in response to this consultation.
  2. 2. HM Government should set out a Vision for Computer Science, akin to the ambition in the Henley report on Music, outlining the proper role for government and industry in achieving outcomes:

 

“Every child should learn the concepts and principles of Information Technology and Computer Science from primary school age onwards, and later to specialise in Computer Science if they wish.”

 

  1. 3. If the statutory Programme of Study and Assessment is dis-applied then Department for Education (DfE) must build assurance by establishing a short, medium and long term ‘Route Map’ to Computer Science from September 2012 to September 2014 and beyond.  The Route Map, developed with industry, should include the following key principles:

 

  • - Computer Science should be (re) established as a rigorous, high-status school subject discipline, on a par with Maths, Physics, or History.
  • - The importance of Computer Science should be recognised by incorporation within the English Baccalaureate.
  • - With industry, professional bodies, schools and universities the DfE should set target ambition for Computer Science in schools by 2015 (e.g. half of all schools teaching Computer Science in three years).
  • - This goal should be pursued with industry through both formal channels (the school curriculum and qualifications) and informal ones (e.g. after school clubs, hack spaces, hobbyist learning).
  • - Adequate investment should be secured to train / re-train a new generation of Computer Science teachers.
  • - Introduce benchmarking of new Computer Science courses against agreed Fundamental Principles developed with professional bodies, industry, universities and schools.  This would enable educational outcomes from new Computer Science curricula to be rigorously evaluated.
  • - Create a national Network of Computer Science Teaching Excellence to co-ordinate resources between schools, industry, professional bodies and universities.  Such a body could assist DfE on benchmarking and improvement along the lines of similar structures in Mathematics or where Computer Science programs have been successfully implemented, e.g. Israel.

 

The full Next Gen Skills submission to the government’s ICT Curriculum Consultation can be found here.

 

Ian Livingstone OBE, chair of the Next Gen Skills campaign, said:

 

“The Next Gen report set out how we can transform the UK once again into the world leader for providing digital natives that have the skillsets across a wide variety of industry sectors including but not limited to marketing and communications agencies, mobile hardware and software providers, technical and digital agencies, broadcast providers and the video games and visual effects industries.  Since the launch of the Next Gen Skills campaign in November 2011, the relevance of our campaign has been grasped even further afield, from design through to advanced manufacturing, electronic engineering and pharmaceuticals.  We believe that increasing the number and quality of computer science graduates is now fundamental to promoting growth in our hi-tech economy.

 

“It is crucial that government, industry and educators alike share this common purpose and work together to implement policies which makes this a reality.  There is an opportunity to re-lay the foundations of Computer Science in schools and help transform the futures of the next generation of young creatives, scientists and engineers – putting the UK at the front of global technology.

 

We need to ensure that the flow of high calibre talent from education to industry is enhanced and not allowed to decline any further.  For this to happen we need real intervention in schools, and welcome the proposed changes to the ICT curriculum, subject to a Route Map for change. There is now a strong argument for Computer Science to be a fourth science on the English Baccalaureate, ensuring it is seen as a discipline in its own right – as it is in other countries.”

 

- ENDS -

Notes to editors:

  • The consultation response is the product of engagement with our campaign members from January to April 2012 and a consultation seminar with head teachers and ICT teachers on 20th March run in conjunction with The Education Foundation (referred to below as “the Curriculum Group”).  Our response has been developed in conversation with other campaign members who have also submitted individually.  We have also reflected the major contribution of the Royal Society report in January 2012 (Shut down or restart? The way forward for computing in UK schools), especially with regard to the issue of teacher training and support, and evidence from other countries, notably Israel.
  • Secretary of State Michael Gove’s speech to BETT launching the consultation on 11 January can be found here:  http://www.education.gov.uk/inthenews/speeches/a00201868/michael-gove-speech-at-the-bett-show-2012

New figures reveal crash in Computer Science degrees

Cross industry hi-tech campaign group Next Gen Skills today expressed concern at the severe misalignment of the UK education system with the needs of hi-tech industries after government figures showed that there are presently over 17,000 fewer entrants at university level for Computer Science courses today compared to 2002.

 

According to figures released by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (see Notes, 3), over the last decade there was a 23.3% drop in the number of students studying Computer Science at undergraduate level and a 33.8% drop in the number of students entering at graduate level.

 

Astonishingly, among the subjects needed for high-tech growth Computer Science is the only area of decline in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) related degrees despite the massive expansion in access to higher education during this time – while the UK started to undergo  the ‘digital revolution’.  In terms of post-graduate study Computer Science is the only area to decline in numbers apart from agriculture-related subjects.

 

The fall in students entering courses is also mirrored by the sharp decline in university courses, which now cannot be explained by ‘course consolidation’ alone.  During the last five years the total number of university courses teaching computer science has declined by one-fifth according to recent course sampling by UCU.

 

Next Gen Skills, led by video games and interactive entertainment trade body UKIE, believes that the UK needs to improve its education system to equip the next generation of programmers with the computer skills needed to drive hi-tech growth.  The introduction of an industry relevant Computer Science course within the framework of the ‘E-Bacc’ could remedy this.

 

Next Gen Skills campaign Chair and Life President of Eidos Ian Livingstone OBE said:

 

“High-tech, knowledge-based industries are major generators of digital intellectual property, and need skilled computer programmers to maintain their growth. These figures are another depressing example of the severe misalignment between the UK education system and the needs of high-tech industries.”

 

“The declining numbers of students taking Computer Science degrees is evidence of the long retreat from Computer Science being taught in our classrooms,  a point made in our ‘Next Gen’ review.  We need to ensure that the flow of high calibre talent from education to industry is enhanced and not allowed to decline any further.  For this to happen we need real intervention in schools,  and welcome the proposed changes to the ICT curriculum. There is a strong argument for Computer Science to be a fourth science on the English Baccalaureate.”

 

Notes to editors:

1. Next Gen Skills is a major new campaign formed from an alliance between the biggest names from the UK digital, creative and hi-tech industries and the UK’s leading skills and educational bodies to improve the computer programming skills needed for the future growth of the UK’s economy.   The campaign is led by games and interactive entertainment trade body UKIE (including major international companies with UK interests such as Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA, Activision and SEGA, plus leading UK creative development studios such as Blitz Games Studios, PlayGen and The Creative Assembly). Other supporters include Google, TalkTalk, Facebook, the British Screen Advisory Council, Guardian Media Group, the Design Council, Intellect, IPA, British Computer Society, Abertay University, Skillset, GuildHE, E Skills, the Education Foundation, NESTA and UK Screen (representing some of the world’s leading visual effects businesses, including Oscar winners Double Negative and Framestore).

 

2. The recent Livingstone Hope ‘Next Gen’ review of creative industry skills produced by NESTA highlighted that computer programming and coding, the most important skill required to create the digital devices and software of the future, is not currently on the national curriculum.   In his speech to BETT on 11 January, the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove responded to the call by industry by announcing a consultation – ending 11 April – on withdrawing the existing National Curriculum Programme of Study for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) from September this year to allow the development of innovative, exciting and rigorous new ICT and Computer Science courses in advance of the launch of the new National Curriculum in 2014.

 

3.On 1 March 2012 John Pugh MP asked Business and Innovation Secretary David Willets MP to give the percentage change in the number of students studying computer science or another technical subject at degree level between 2002 and 2012 (answer 6 March).

 

John Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what the percentage change in number of students taking (a) computer science degrees and (b) any kind of technical study at degree level was between 2002 and 2012. [98471]

 

Mr Willetts: The latest available information on UK domicile enrolments to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) first degree and postgraduate courses is shown in the following table for the 2002/03 and 2010/11 academic years. Figures for the 2011/12 academic year will become available from January 2013.

 

UK domicile (1) enrolments (2) ,to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) first degree and postgraduate courses, UK higher education institutions: Academic years 2002/03 and 2010/11

 

Level of study Subject area 2002/03 2010/11 Percentage change 2002/03 to 2010/11
First degree Medicine and dentistry 30,265 41,030 +35.6
Subjects allied to medicine 87,485 118,310 +35.2
Biological sciences 89,500 135,970 +51.9
Veterinary science 2,785 3,845 +38.2
Agriculture and related subjects 6,775 7,960 +17.5
Physical sciences 46,175 62,085 +34.5
Mathematical sciences 17,745 27,755 +56.4
Computer science 73,030 56,025 -23.3
Engineering and technology 63,950 73,545 +15.0
Architecture, building and planning 22,870 32,780 +43.3
Total STEM 440,575 559,305 +26.9
Postgraduate Medicine and dentistry 10,480 14,760 +40.9
Subjects allied to medicine 27,695 44,950 +62.3
Biological sciences 16,965 23,955 +41.2
Veterinary science 385 770 +101.1
Agriculture and related subjects 2,020 1,735 -14.2
Physical sciences 10,620 12,490 +17.6
Mathematical sciences 2,815 3,045 +8.1
Computer science 12,625 8,355 -33.8
Engineering and technology 15,745 18,155 +15.3
Architecture, building and planning 8,720 10,665 +22.3
Total STEM 108,065 138,875 +28.5

 

4. Research into the decline in STEM and Computer Science courses taught at university was demonstrated in ‘Choice Cuts’ research by UCU (February 2012)  http://www.ucu.org.uk/media/pdf/c/h/Choice_cuts_report_Feb12.pdf

 

 

5. Ian Livingstone is one of the UK’s founding fathers of interactive entertainment. In 1975 he co-founded Games Workshop and launched Dungeons & Dragons in Europe. In 1982 he co-designed Fighting Fantasy,  and co-wrote The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, the first in the series that sold in excess of 16 million copies in 25 languages. Following a full listing on the London Stock Exchange in 1995, he served as Executive Chairman of Eidos plc until 2002, and is now Life President. At Eidos he helped to secure many of the company’s major franchises including Lara Croft:Tomb Raider. In 2011, he co-authored ‘Next Gen’, transforming the UK into the world’s leading talent hub for video games and visual effects.

 

6. Next Gen Skills www.nextgenskills.com is campaigning for:

  • The introduction of an industry relevant Computer Science course within the framework of the National Curriculum
  • A review of ICT in its current form and to embed essential ICT skills across the wider curriculum
  • The promotion of the vital role that teaching maths, physics, art and computer science will play in ensuring the growth of UK’s digital, creative and hi-tech industries

Next Gen Skills calls for support for new generation of Computer Science teachers

28 February 2012 – London, United Kingdom  - Next Gen Skills today called on Chancellor George Osborne to support a new teacher training infrastructure in the 2012 Budget. Next Gen Skills, which organised the call, said teachers would need support ahead of possible curriculum changes starting in September 2012 and the introduction of the National Curriculum in September 2014.

 

The government is currently consulting on the removal of the current ICT Programme of Study, clearing the way for new courses potentially more focused on computer science and programming.

 

Ahead of this year’s budget on 21 March, the letter asks the chancellor: “To support the development of a new computer science and information and communications technology teaching infrastructure… so the UK can truly take advantage of the curriculum reforms proposed in January this year by the secretary of state for education.”

 

Backers of the letter include UKIE – representing the UK games industry – NMI, the trade body of the UK semiconductor industry, the British Computer Society and E-Skills.

 

Next Gen Skills, an alliance of IT sector and education groups that campaigns for better computer education in schools, led by video games industry trade body UKIE, said curriculum change had to be adequately funded:

 

Next Gen Skills’ Theo Blackwell said “If the government is to realise its ambition to make computer science in our schools ‘sufficiently rigorous’ it needs to invest more resources on a new generation of teachers and help up-skill existing ones through continuing professional development.”

 

Notes to editors:

  1. Deficits in ICT teacher training are highlighted in January’s Royal Society report (Chapter 7) http://royalsociety.org/Current-ICT-and-Computer-Science-in-schools/
  2. Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove speech 11 January highlights the need for teacher training http://www.education.gov.uk/inthenews/speeches/a00201868/michael-gove-speech-at-the-bett-show-2012

Next Gen Skills welcome findings of major Royal Society research into computing at school

Ian Livingstone OBE, co-chair of the cross-industry Next Gen Skills Campaign today welcomed the publication of the Royal Society’s 18 month study Shut down or Restart? The way forward for Computing in UK schools:

 

“The Royal Society report is a major policy contribution to how we re-start computer science and information technology teaching in the classroom and complements the findings and recommendations of Next Gen.

 

“The report identifies the key obstacles to implementing a world-beating computer science curriculum and signals the steps industry, associations and government need to take together to solve this. The ambition to ensure all children are digitally literate is the right and only option for the digital world.

 

“The Government has to invest in training of new teachers, and continuing professional development for current ICT teachers who will now want to teach computer science. It is imperative that senior management in schools encourages this.

 

“The current ICT syllabus is out of date, too variable in quality and does not teach children relevant skills for a career in the digital industries. While the Government’s proposed move away from a strictly defined curriculum has advantages, a truly rigorous computer science foundation should be built on accepted, core principles. We need to ensure that learning, while flexible, is also intellectually consistent so progress and achievement can be measured. Therefore the curriculum has to be rigorous and robust but let’s not forget that it also has to be relevant, fun and exciting to inspire young people.”

Next Gen Skills today welcomed Secretary of State Michael Gove

Next Gen Skills today welcomed Secretary of State Michael Gove’s speech at BETT 2012 as a moment to “restart” computer science in schools.  Ian Livingstone OBE, chair of the cross-industry Next Gen Skills Campaign launched in November 2011 to reform ICT and promote computer science as a GCSE, said:

 

“The Secretary of State’s announcement is to be warmly welcomed: the radical reform of ICT and introduction of computer science is long overdue.  We believe the UK has gone backwards at a time when the requirement for computer science as a core skill is more essential than ever before.  From creative industries to advanced manufacturing, programming is now so central to UK businesses that the lack of programming skills is a real barrier to growth and a constant source of frustration for hi-tech firms.

 

“It’s time for a restart to recapture that thirst for computing which started in the 1980s and lead to the UK being a market leader in computing, before the education system lost its way with office-based ICT.  Working with the government, I am sure industry and educators can rise to the  challenge is to make computer science exciting again for a whole new generation of children so they learn the skills they need and employers want, equipping them for fulfilling careers in the digital age.”

 

Next Gen Skills is being led by games and interactive entertainment trade body UKIE (including major international companies with UK interests such as Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA, Activision and SEGA, plus leading UK creative development studios such as Blitz Games Studios, PlayGen and The Creative Assembly). Other launch supporters include Google, TalkTalk, the British Screen Advisory Council, Guardian Media Group, Intellect, IPA, British Computing Society, Abertay University, Skillset, GuildHE, E Skills, NESTA and UK Screen (representing some of the world’s leading visual effects businesses, including Oscar winners Double Negative and Framestore).

 

Major new cross-industry coalition calls for fundamental changes to education system to drive hi-tech growth

On the eve of the Chancellor’s Autumn statement, some of the biggest names from the digital, creative and hi-tech industries are joining up with leading skills and educational bodies to launch a major new campaign to change the education system and ensure that the computer programming skills needed for the future growth of the UK’s hi-tech economy are properly embedded in schools and classrooms.

 

Building on the recommendations made by the Livingstone Hope review of the skills needs in the UK’s video games and visual effects industries, Next Gen Skills believes that the UK needs to improve its education system to equip the next generation of programmers with the computer skills needed to drive hi-tech growth.

 

The campaign is concerned that computer science, the most important skill required to create the digital devices and software of the future, is not currently on the national curriculum and that the ICT courses currently on offer teach children how to use computers, but not how to create them.

 

To compete with international hi-tech hubs, the Next Gen Skills supporters argue that today’s digital employers need job-ready graduates with more specialist technical skills who can start work with an excellent understanding of production processes and the programming languages and software applications industries use and consumers want.

 

Next Gen Skills is being led by games and interactive entertainment trade body UKIE (including major international companies with UK interests such as Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA, Activision and SEGA, plus leading UK creative development studios such as Blitz Games Studios, PlayGen and The Creative Assembly). Other launch supporters include Google, TalkTalk, the British Screen Advisory Council, Guardian Media Group, Intellect, IPA, British Computing Society, Abertay University, Skillset, GuildHE, E Skills, NESTA and UK Screen (representing some of the world’s leading visual effects businesses, including Oscar winners Double Negative and Framestore).

 

Next Gen Skills is campaigning for:
· The introduction of an industry relevant Computer Science course within the framework of the National Curriculum

· A review of ICT in its current form and to embed essential ICT skills across the wider curriculum

· The promotion of the vital role that teaching maths, physics, art and computer science will play in ensuring the growth of UK’s digital, creative and hi-tech industries

 

Co-author of the Livingstone Hope review and co-chair of the Next Gen Skills Campaign, Ian Livingstone said: “As businesses increasingly rely on technology and computing, the UK has the opportunity to become a global, hi-tech leader. However, we need to improve our education system to allow this potential to be fulfilled.”

 

“Next Gen Skills believes that not having computer science on the national curriculum is a risk to any UK business that has computing and technology at its core. This is as relevant to design, engineering, financial services and architecture, from the building of jet engines to protection against cybercrime, as it is to the digital creative industries.”

 

“We’re excited to have so many big names signed up as initial supporters of Next Gen Skills already and we welcome support from any organisations who share our goal of equipping the next generation with the knowledge needed to grow this country’s digital, creative and hi-tech economy.”

 

Campaign supporters gave their backing:
Peter Barron, Director of External Relations, Google EMEA: “Google is delighted to be supporting the Next Gen Skills campaign. Google is a company built on, and still driven by, engineering. As we see increasing potential for growth in the creative, digital and hi-tech industries, we need to ensure that we are equipping the next generation with the skills they need to keep Britain at the cutting edge of technological and scientific innovation.”

 

Steve Beswick, Director of Education at Microsoft UK: “Microsoft strongly supports the introduction of Computer Science as a rigorous school subject at every level from primary onwards. Microsoft’s partners employ half a million people in the technology sector and often find it hard to recruit software developers who have the relevant technical background. We need a step change that re-establishes computer science as a high-status school subject, valuable both educationally and economically. Microsoft is already partnering with the Computing at School Group to campaign for computer science in the school curriculum and we are working to improve the UK’s computer science skills right across the board: from transformative technology in schools to IT apprenticeships and PhD places which we support at Edinburgh University.”

 

Andrew Miller, CEO, Guardian Media Group: “In a world where digital skills are becoming increasingly necessary in all aspects of life, this education campaign is extremely important. It is crucial that employers embrace technology, not least media organisations, and we support the call for this to be reflected in the national curriculum.”

 

Hasan Bakhshi, Director of Creative Industries at NESTA – which led the research for the Livingstone Hope review – said: “The video games and visual effects industries are a phenomenal success story for the UK. The Next Gen. review showed just how imperative it is that we equip our young people with the technical and creative skills to continue this legacy and grow the hi-tech creative sector in the UK. The Next Gen Skills Campaign will play a vital role in campaigning for the implementationof these findings.”

 

Fiona Clarke-Hackston, Chief Executive, BSAC added: “Technological change has had a huge impact on the skills needs of the audiovisual industries. If the UK is to remain globally competitive it is essential that changes are made to our educational system. The British Screen Advisory Council fully supports the Next Gen Campaign.”

 

Skillset’s Kate O’Connor commented: “Our VFX and games industries know that to remain world leaders, we need to equip the new generation of talent with a fusion of arts, maths and science skills. We support Next Gen Skills’ call for putting computer science on the national curriculum and combining this with a new approach to education that encourages young people to fuse those skills with their work in creative disciplines. If we act on this now, we will build a talent base to enable the continued growth of a thriving and dynamic creative sector into the future.”

 

Andy Payne, MD of Mastertronic: “Our business is in content creation. In order for us to continue to be successful we must ensure that our future employees have the skills necessary to both create and distribute compelling content that is wanted by consumers on a world-wide basis. Having ICT and not computer science on the national curriculum is a major error in judgement in our view and will force us to look elsewhere for the talented content creators who can design, build and deliver to content consumers.”

The Challenge

The Challenge

The Livingstone Hope review of skills needed in the UK’s video games and visual effects industries highlighted that computer coding – the most important skill required to create the digital devices and software of the future, is not currently on the national curriculum.  What’s more, current ICT courses don’t prepare our students for the future workplace because they focus on using existing software packages – but not creating them.

 

Without change there will be a generation of British children who are not being given the opportunity to learn the maths, physics, art and computer programming skills required to create and properly harness the software apps, games and business technology which form part of a growing, multi-billion pound global market in high-tech creative industries.

 

Next Gen Skills believes that the skills shortage highlighted in the Livingstone Hope review is a risk to any UK business with computing and technology at its core.  Computing is as relevant to design, engineering, financial services and architecture – from the building of jet engines to protection against cyber-crime: as it is to the digital creative industries.

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