Government unveils Year of Code campaign and £500,000 teacher training fund

UK government makes 2014 the Year of Code to prepare teachers for the ICT curriculum launch and encourage children to learn computer science

The government is to inject £500,000 into computing teacher training, to ensure schools are prepared for software coding when the new ICT curriculum starts in September.

The announcement comes as ministers unveil the Year of Code campaign, intended to get young people excited about computer science throughout 2014.

Starting in the new school year in September 2014, technology businesses willing to provide 50% of funding for projects to train computing teachers, can bid for match-funded grants.

The programme was put together by teachers and industry experts, including the British Computer Society (BCS), the Royal Academy of Engineering, Microsoft, Google and leaders in the computer games industry.

The chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne, said: “Backing technology and making sure our children are equipped with the skills for the future is a key part of our economic plan. We are already making Britain the place to start and grow a technology company. This year, by introducing coding into the curriculum, we are also making sure Britain is the place to learn to code.

“In the 21st century, the ability to code and program a computer is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s an essential.”

Education secretary Michael Gove said: “The new computing curriculum will give our children the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century. That is why we replaced the obsolete and boring curriculum with one that is forward-thinking, modern, and drawn up by teachers, industry experts and leading technology firms.

“I want IT firms, university computing departments and software developers to use this fund to share their knowledge with the next generation.”

The Year of the Code campaign will offer several events over the next 12 months to promoting computing in schools. This will also include a week-long programme in March 2014 to encourage all schools to teach its pupils at least one hour of coding that week.  

Mike Warriner, UK engineering director at Google, said: “The UK has a proud computing history but, with more and more industries wanting computer scientists, coding has never been in more demand.

“It’s great that teachers will be trained with the skills they need to teach children from a young age and hopefully inspire the next generation of developers and programmers.”

Google has invested £1,000,000 over the last year, to support organisations like Code Club, Teach First and the Raspberry Pi Foundation, in a bid to help education experts bring computer science skills to more children in the UK.

Michel Van der Bel, Microsoft’s UK vice-president,said: “This is fantastic news for both teachers and pupils. As a long-term partner to the education sector, we know how critical it is that we provide our teachers with the tools they need to deliver this new subject."

Recently Microsoft launched its Switched On Computing programme providing teachers with computing teaching materials.

“I am confident that through this combination of funding, materials and activities, teachers will be hitting the ground running come September” added Van der Bel.

Read more on IT technical skills