BT has stepped in to finance an extension to the BCS-led Barefoot Computing Project for school teachers.
Almost 3,000 teachers from over 800 different schools in England have received computer training via the Barefoot Computing Project since its launch last summer. BT has agreed to support the project from March until the end of this school year. The project was originally funded by the Department for Education to March this year.
The Barefoot project supports primary school teachers to teach the new computing curriculum which became compulsory in schools throughout England last September. The scheme provides cross-curricular computer science resources and training for primary school teachers with no previous computer science knowledge. The initiative is being supported through a programme of free in-school computing workshops.
Pat Hughes, project leader for Barefoot Computing, said: “The announcement that BT is providing funding to extend the Barefoot project is great news. The scheme has proved to be popular so far. As well as training thousands of teachers there have been 6,000 registrations to the Barefoot website, with 2,500 new teacher registrations in the last two months.”
Barefoot helps teachers understand ideas and concepts such as algorithms, abstraction and data structures, how they occur naturally in many other disciplines that they also teach, and how they can teach them to children starting from age 5.
Clive Selley, CEO of BT technology, services and operations, said: “Computing is a very important skill for BT and through our engagement with schools we’ve seen that children really enjoy it and that it can have a profound impact on other STEM subjects.”
BT has been involved with some of the Barefoot Computing projects in schools so far.
In other technology education news, Google and O2 are to support a £3.6 million drive to teach computing skills in primary schools in England, education secretary Nicky Morgan has announced at the 2015 BETT conference today.
However, Andy Settle, chief cyber security consultant at defence firm Thales, said that supporting computing skills in schools cannot be the only step.
"This does not address the current generation of employees who did not benefit from such initiatives. Specific focus should be put on the lost cyber generation of the nineties and 'noughties' now entering employment, who have arguably been left disenfranchised through the delivery of basic office skills under the guise of an ICT curriculum.
"The current lack of computing expertise and cyber awareness within organisations remains one of the biggest challenges in dealing with online threats, and in turn, missed opportunities for the UK economy. Industry and government together must ensure that today's workforce can stay ahead of evolving cyber threats."
Image © iStock/Christopher Futcher