Computer Science is Bacc
Two and half years ago, Nesta had the privilege to work with two of the most outstanding figures in the UK's creative industries, Alex Hope of Double Negative studios and Ian Livingstone of Eidos.
We'd been asked by the Government to look at what could be done to make sure the UK had the skills it needed to maintain its world-class visual FX and video games industries. These were industries that Ian and Alex knew better than most, since they'd played a central role in building them.
After months of talking to people, and weeks of poring over detailed surveys of everyone from games execs to school children, one thing became clear. If we wanted world class games and VFX industry, we needed world-class computer science teaching in our schools. What we found was quite different. For the most part, what kids learnt in school was how to use Microsoft products: Powerpoint, Word, Excel. The National Curriculum had chucked out Alan Turing and replaced him with Bill Gates.
We knew from our research and from plain common sense that this wasn't how to make kids fall in love with computing. The last time Britain had made a big effort to get kids really using computers in school, the BBC Computer Literacy Project of the 1980s, it led to an explosion of creativity. So one of the main recommendations of Next Gen, the report we published together in early 2011, was that computer science deserved its own place in the new English Baccalaureate.
Since then, Ian and Alex and their many supporters in the industry and beyond have worked tirelessly to get the message out there.
So we're delighted to see that today, the Government has agreed to put Computer Science at the heart of the eBacc, meaning that when children use computers in schools, they'll be learning how to make games fly quadrocopters or hack Raspberry Pis, not just tapping away at Powerpoint. This is a tremendous result for the young people of Britain and for our dynamic games and visual FX industries.
But the game doesn't end here. Nesta is working with the Mozilla Foundation, the Nominet Trust and some of Britain's most interesting educators to promote new ways of teaching computing in schools, giving children the tools they need to become "Digital Makers" not just passive consumers of technology.
To all of you who've supported the campaign so far, a heart-felt thank you. And watch this space.