BCS launches Barefoot Computing teacher training project with £1m cash injection

BCS launches computer science teaching project with further £1m injection to prepare teachers for the new curriculum

The Department for Education (DfE) has awarded the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, £1m to train primary school teachers ahead of the computing curriculum launch in 2014.

In partnership with the Computing at School (CAS), BCS aims to equip primary school teachers with the basics of teaching computing through its Barefoot Computing programme.

Beginning in January 2014, the 15-month project with see 800 in-school computing workshops to introduce schools to the new curriculum and the new tools and materials required to teach it.

In April 2013 the BCS was given £2m in government funding to kick off its computer science teacher training.

BCS aims to use the £2m to recruit 400 “master teachers” in computer science over the next two years. These master teachers will then pass on their knowledge to 40 schools to enable teachers to firstly learn the basics of teaching computer science, before progressing to experts in teaching the field.

The funding will enable 16,000 primary and secondary schools to teach the new computing curriculum and the new computer science GCSE.

Education minister Elizabeth Truss emphasised the importance of creating a generation of children being taught to write computer animations and designing apps, instead of learning how to fill in spreadsheets.

The new computing curriculum comes into force September 2014, with primary school children from the age of five being taught algorithms and computer programming.

Bill Mitchell, director of education at the BCS, said: “Barefoot computing will create primary school-friendly classroom resources that exemplify how to teach computing through topics that are relevant to the cross-curricula primary school environment.

“For example, the materials provided will cover how to write computer games and other classroom computing activities for children from Year 1 (age 5) to Year 6 (age 10/11) that also support progression in subjects such as literacy, maths, history and science.”

Simon Peyton-Jones, chair the Computing at School (CAS) Working Group, said: “The CAS mission is to ensure every child has an outstanding computer science education, from age 5 onwards. 

"The Barefoot Computing project is part of that mission and will be run as part of the CAS Network of Teaching Excellence in Computer Science1, which includes over 750 schools and 70 universities.”

Previously taught as ICT, computer science will be included as a science option for the English Baccalaureate from January 2014.

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