Microsoft is investing £334,000 into a partnership with Computing at Schools (CAS) to train teachers and prepare them for the new computing curriculum coming into effect in September.
Teacher support has been identified as an issue in the delivery of the new, more rigorous computing curriculum, and there have been a number of calls for industry to get involved to help teachers produce work-ready school leavers and graduates.
With the investment, CAS is holding a series of training sessions that will show teachers how they can make the complex coding and computer science aspects of the curriculum engaging for children. Children as young as five will be required to learn coding in the new curriculum.
Michel Van der Bel, UK MD at Microsoft, said: “In 2009 a nine-year-old boy from Singapore built an app that has been downloaded more than 800,000 times, in 2013, a seven-year-old girl from Philadelphia became the youngest person to build a mobile game app. If we want the next success story to be based in Britain then we need teachers who have the right skills and the confidence to inspire, support and enable them to do so.”
There will be two training courses run under the ‘Countdown to Computing’ programme, one for primary and one for secondary school teachers. It will also provide supporting classroom resources that teachers can use in their first term.
There will be 2,500 local events delivering face-to-face training via the CAS’s network of 103 regional hubs. Some training options will also be made available via Skype for teachers who cannot make the face-to-face events.
According to the partners, about one in five primary school teachers and at least three specialist teachers in every secondary school will benefit from this training programme.
In addition, Microsoft is supporting CAS’s bid for the Department for Education (DfE) to match its investment, in order to extend the training programme even further.
CAS, the government’s partner for teacher training, is part of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. It is a grassroots organisation that is chaired by Microsoft Research Cambridge’s Simon Peyton-Jones, and runs the Network of Teaching Excellence in Computer Science and the Barefoot Computing programmes. The latter programme is a national scheme to support primary school teachers as they start to teach the new computing curriculum.
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