Getting computing into the national curriculum was considered an educational feat by many. Yet putting changes to paper was only half the battle. As schools are getting ready for the summer break, there’s still a lot to do before the new computing curriculum is implemented this September.
Nesta and TES recently commissioned a survey to understand how England’s teachers felt about delivering the new computing curriculum. We found the majority were unconfident about delivering the new curriculum and felt unsupported by the Department for Education, yet just half had sought out resources, guidance or other forms of support to prepare.
These results are not necessarily surprising, but they are a reminder that announcing a new computing curriculum does not guarantee it will be delivered. A great deal of effort remains to ensure teachers are confident, and prepared, when the new curriculum is implemented this autumn.
Amidst the rising fervour towards digital skills, great effort has been undertaken to encourage people to participate in years, summers, and even hours of code. While most of these initiatives have focused on young learners, this summer could be the perfect time to extend and adapt such efforts to teachers across England. If the new computing curriculum is supposed to get pupils excited about the potential of digital technology, surely there’s reason to focus on teachers' enthusiasm as well?
The new curriculum has been followed with several major teacher training initiatives: the Department for Education is providing financial support to people training as computing teachers and recently announced partnerships with industry leaders to train over 45,000 computing teachers. Such efforts are crucial, but we need to consider how all teachers can access information and support.
A number of dedicated, creative and ambitious organisations and individuals are already working with teachers to ensure the new computing curriculum is delivered to its full potential. Through our work with the Make Things Do Stuff campaign and the Nesta Digital Makers fund, we’ve encountered many such groups. For example, Preston teacher Alan O’Donohoe has spent the last five years working with teachers and pupils alike to find fun ways to teach computing, while also creating educational events like Raspberry Jams and Hack to the Future. Similarly, organisations like Code Club are expanding their remit from after-school clubs to offer training for teachers.
Looking more broadly, our team in Scotland has worked with computing teacher Kate Farrell over the last year to develop and test a range of CPD programmes for teachers - including one day master classes, lesson plans and local support networks. Along with formal training and CPD, teachmeets can offer a useful space to discuss concerns and share tips.
The challenge isn’t creating more training or resources, but connecting teachers to what already exists in useful and engaging ways.
To find out more about resources and support available to teachers, have a look at Oliver Quinlan's article in TES.