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Google invests £1m to help train UK computing teachers

Tech giant will provide grant to help train secondary school computing teachers across the UK

Google is to contribute a grant of £1m to help train UK secondary school computing teachers.

The grant, from Google.org, will go to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the British Computer Society and the National Stem Learning Centre to provide teachers with free computer science and pedagogy training.

As part of the funding, free online courses and resources will be made available to teachers, alongside the opportunity for physical workshops for teachers delivering key stage three and key stage four education in England.

Obum Ekeke, head of computer science education programmes for Google in the UK and Africa, said in a blog post that the investment is part of Google.org’s ongoing effort to ensure young people from disadvantaged backgrounds can gain access to computer science education.

“Googlers care deeply about helping to develop our future computer scientists, and many of them will give their time and skills to this programme,” he said. “A team of Google engineers and learning and development specialists will volunteer with Raspberry Pi to ensure all teachers are able to access the online resources and courses.”

In 2014, the government introduced the new computing curriculum to help teach young people concepts such as coding and computational thinking with the aim of filling the UK’s technical skills gap and the basic digital skills gap.

But not only is there a lack of computing teachers to deliver the curriculum, but existing teachers feel they are not confident enough in the subject matter to teach it effectively, and struggle to encourage young people into science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) careers.

Google has so far invested almost $40m in organisations around the world to help underprivileged children gain access to computer science, and its £1m grant for UK teachers will also be focused on children who might not otherwise engage with Stem education.

Read more about computing teachers

  • Almost 60% of teachers have admitted developing unconscious gender stereotypes towards science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects.
  • Many schools and educational establishments are implementing 3D printing technologies to help with the curriculum, but teachers are struggling to use the technology.

Google’s investment follows the government’s 2017 Budget announcement that £100m would be made available to train 8,000 computer science teachers across the UK with the support of the National Centre for Computing.

The technology industry in Europe will need about 756,000 skilled professionals by 2020, but many employers claim students are leaving education without the skills needed to fill tech roles.

The UK government recently released a survey asking the technology industry what skills are currently required for tech roles, and what will be required in the future.

In the UK, Google is also helping Teach First and the University of Wolverhampton to support the recruitment and continuous learning of teachers and to promote Stem learning, particularly for students from under-represented backgrounds and girls.

The tech giant recently came under scrutiny after choosing to fire software engineer James Damore in response to the publication of an allegedly sexist memo, something observers believe to have been a rash decision that will not help the tech industry’s problems.

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