Microsoft has unveiled a suite of technology aimed at primary school teachers who will be teaching the new computing curriculum from September.
As part of the supplier’s First Class Computing programme, the Switched On Computing material is available free, in partnership with educational publisher Rising Stars, and is designed to ensure primary school teachers who have never taught computer science before have the necessary skills and confidence to deliver the new curriculum in the next nine months.
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The Switched On Computing materials have been compiled by teachers and tested to develop computer science skills in children as young as five. The material is divided into separate units for each year group from one to six, aiming to develop logical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Microsoft has pledged to help 160,000 non-specialist UK primary schools prepare for the new curriculum. The company will also be launching a series of training roadshows in the coming months.
Steve Beswick, senior director of Education at Microsoft UK, said: “We welcomed the news of the new computing curriculum alongside others in the industry because it is absolutely critical for the future success of our young people. The challenge now is to ensure that primary teachers are equipped to deliver it by September.”
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“That’s why we are launching our First Class Computing programme now, which, through new materials, teacher training, and our ongoing work with the education community, can help a new generation of teachers inspire young people.”
Microsoft’s First Class Computing programme is part of the supplier’s long-term ambition to ensure every UK school leaver is computer literate, as well as 80% of all jobs that require computer science knowledge to be filled by a UK graduate by 2025.
Andrea Carr, managing director at Rising Stars, said: “The arrival of the new national curriculum brings fresh challenges for primary schools, particularly in the area of computer science.”
“We think these free resources are exactly what teachers need to get started with computing. The projects are creative, easy to run and include plenty of hand holding for teachers.
Claire Lotriet, ICT coordinator at Henwick Primary School in Greenwich, said: “Primary teachers have less than a year to get to grips with the new computing curriculum. This will entail learning new concepts, such as algorithms, which can be tricky to explain to some adults, let alone a five year old child. That’s why simplified, adaptable and engaging materials are so useful to get our hands on now before that all-important first lesson of the term.”
Xbox 360 for schools
On a mission to increase computational thinking and games development in young people, Microsoft has also unveiled a low-cost offer for Xbox 360s to schools with a DreamSpark subscription.
DreamSpark is designed to provide students with tools to create applications and games for Microsoft Xbox, Windows Phone and Windows 8. Through professional developer software it equips teachers with software provisioning and lesson plans.
The Xbox in Education offer includes a three-year DreamSpark Standard subscription for students who are studying computer science.