CBI reports calls for computer science teaching reforms

Report from CBI proposes more computer science teachers and clearly defined goals for the subject

More specialist teachers in science and computer science are needed for primary school children, a report from CBI has called for today.

The First Steps: A new approach for our schools report is being launched at the CBI Annual Conference today, including several proposals for the UK education system.

CBI consulted businesses, teachers and academics to create a report which covers pre-school, primary and secondary school.

The report says children aged seven to 12, particularly from poorer backgrounds, tend to fall behind. With this in mind, the CBI has made three proposals for primary school pupils. More science and computer science teachers; clearly defined goals for literacy, numeracy, science and computer science; and a review of the age transfer procedures that children undergo to move from primary to secondary school.

John Cridland, CBI director-general, said: “Businesses have traditionally focused on education at 14 plus, but it’s clear we need to tackle problems earlier, instead of applying a sticking plaster later on.

“Government reforms are heading in the right direction, but are not sufficient on their own and must go further and faster. As well as academic rigour, we need schools to produce rounded and grounded young people who have the skills and behaviours that businesses want.”

Teaching and school governance

The report draws the conclusion that schools that have more freedom do better, and calls for teachers to be able to tailor their teaching to the needs of each child; for head teachers to be given full control of performance assessment; and a shift away from exam league tables towards new Ofsted reports that assess academic rigour and broader behaviours and attitudes of students.

The CBI is also calling for businesses and community organisations to support schools through role models, advice and experience.

With the government raising the education leaving age in England from 16 to 18, the CBI is calling for A-levels to be made the main exam, instead of focusing on GCSEs. The report proposes that A-levels be strengthened for use in conjunction with new gold standard vocational A-levels, the creation of individual learning plans until 18 and a move away from GCSEs to new assessment for students.  

“We have some great teachers and average grades are rising, but we’ve been kidding ourselves about overall standards. By teaching to the test, too many young people’s individual needs are not being met and they are being failed by the system,” added Cridland.

At pre-school age the report also called for the government to readdress childcare provision in areas where educational performance is low, and to look at tax support and child care regulations. It proposed that at least one person should have Qualified Teacher Status, to raise standards in pre-schools.

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