Maths neglect will decimate IT skills, says ANS founder Scott Fletcher

Neglecting school maths education will precipitate a skills decline in the UK’s IT industry, according to Scott Fletcher, founder of the ANS Group

Neglecting maths education in UK schools will lead to a substantial decline in skills in the IT sector, according to Scott Fletcher, founder and chairman of ANS Group.  

Scott Fletcher responded to a study from The Sutton Trust, which found teenagers in England are only half as likely to reach the levels of maths achieved by students in other developed nations.

The Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University looked into the proportion of students reaching the highest levels in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) tests.

Just 1.7% of England’s 15-year-olds managed to reach the highest level 6 in maths. The average OECD figure was 3.1%. England ranked 26th out of the 34 OECD countries researched.

When the report was published, the government said it wanted to restore academic rigour to pupils and their schools.

Fletcher said: “Numeracy and computer science exist hand-in-hand. A child that is interested in mathematics will almost invariably be interested in computer programming.”

He believes children should be taught the basic principles of programming and coding, where children can cultivate their numeric skills.

School ICT curriculum

Fletcher said he agrees with the new ICT curriculum to be introduced in schools in 2014.

The previous ICT curriculum was scrapped in September 2011, as it was believed the structure was no longer relevant to pupils. The government said pupils need to learn how to programme and code instead of learning how to use software.

Schools should focus on typing skills from an early age: “It is astonishing how many high-grade programmers continue to ply their trade with a ham-fisted, two-finger technique," said Scott Fletcher. 

"Every child should be given access to a computer, be able to type and have knowledge of basic programming before they leave primary school.”
As a bare minimum, all youngsters should possess reasonable programming skills by the age of fourteen before they make any career choices: “This country has a massive computing heritage and we have to take steps to preserve it," said Fletcher.  

“We should not underestimate the beneficial effect that the BBC computer of the eighties had on our current generation of innovative computer scientists.”

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