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Year of Code advisor quits less than a week after campaign launch

Kayleigh Bateman

An advisor to the government’s newly announced Year of Code campaign has quit less than a week after its launch.

Last week ministers unveiled the campaign to get young people excited about computer science, but advisor Emma Mulqueeny, founder of Young Rewired State, has already exited the campaign after she referred to the government’s teacher training plans as a "BS strategy".

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The announcement last Tuesday coincided with the government unveiling plans to inject £500,000 into computing teacher training, to ensure schools are prepared for software coding when the new ICT curriculum starts in September.

In a blogpost Mulqueeny wrote: "I want nothing to do with this" and “I do not support this government policy.”

She went on to highlight how the campaign’s chairman, former Number 10 policy adviser Rohan Silva, sent Lottie Dexter, the campaign's executive director, out for a so called "media mauling".

Recently, during a BBC Newsnight interview, Dexter struggled to describe programming and was criticised for her lack of qualifications.

Referring to campaign advisor Saul Klein and chairman Rohan Silva, Mulqueeny wrote: “Gov pledge to spend £500,000 on skilling up teachers to ‘teach coding’ is a BS sum and a BS strategy, with a young (beautiful) PR girl hurled out to slaughter by a couple of men.”

“I also think £500,000 is a balls amount of money, matched with a 24-year-old PR girl sent out to ‘mauling by media’ XFactor style, is this government’s way of kicking this subject into the long grass for good,” she added.

In her post Mulqueeny admitted: “I do not affect government policy, I do not even formally lobby government. I discover, get worked up about, share then explore things. Recently it has been this digital movement. I am not an academic. I am not a lobbyist. But I am an enthusiastic serial dater of this subject and I am learning a lot.”

There are currently 21 “advisors” listed on the Year of Code campaign one being Computer Weekly’s Most Influential Women in IT Rising Star Kathryn Parsons, who Mulqueeny questioned: “Although Decoded do a very good job in the advertising industry – WTF are they doing influencing government policy? I know Kathryn Parsons, she would be equally as surprised at being dragged out as govvy heroine of programming nazi-ism in schools.”

Unveiling the campaign last week the chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne said: “This year, by introducing coding into the curriculum, we are also making sure Britain is the place to learn to code.”

Raspberry Pi foundation’s director of educational development Clive Beale, recently aired his views of the campaign on Twitter: "The word 'coding' has been hijacked and abused by politicians and media who don't understand stuff. I give you instead: the #YearOfComputing".


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