Despite the new computing curriculum kicking off this week, two-thirds (65%) of parents are unaware that their primary school children will be learning to code at school, research has revealed.
In a poll of 1,000 five to 11-year-olds and their parents, Ocado Technology – a division of the online supermarket Ocado.com – found that although many parents did not know much about the new computing curriculum, 47% of students were excited about learning how to code.
Furthermore, 29% of students said they already know some coding skills.
Paul Clarke, director of technology at Ocado, said teaching children to program is about more than nurturing the next generation of software engineers.
“Being able to write code is a transformative and disruptive meta-skill that needs to be seen as being of huge potential value, whatever your future holds,” he said.
“The new computing curriculum will help equip these children with the skills they need to realise their ambitions and succeed in the industries of tomorrow.”
However, the students said they would still rather pursue careers in acting and football over computer programming.
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Over half (58%) of the girls said they would rather become actresses, compared with 20% who aspired to become computer programmers. Just under half (47%) of the boys said they would rather become footballers, compared with 34% who wanted to be computer programmers.
David Miller, director of learning at Kuato Studios and a former teacher, said code literacy is an important skill in the age of digital design and technology.
“Not every child needs to learn a programming language, but without some understanding of how code works and how it affects our lives, we may be depriving young people of new avenues to creativity and valuable skills for the job market,” he said.
“Until now, the education system seems to have been oblivious to the explosive emergence of computing and the internet. With the UK's new computer science curriculum, we may soon see an explosion of creators and entrepreneurs in the technology sphere.”
Richard Gadd, UK managing director of Hitachi Data Systems, said incorporating coding and technical skills into the fabric of education is essential for the future economic success of the UK.
With the UK's new computer science curriculum, we may soon see an explosion of creators and entrepreneurs in the technology sphere
David Miller, Kuato Studios
“Through the new curriculum, the government has taken a great first step towards nurturing the technology superstars of the future,” he said.
“But it’s important to remember that businesses also have an important role to play. By working with the government and offering more entry-level jobs with on-site training, where individuals are equipped with the right skills to pursue a career in IT, businesses can help bridge the IT skills gap and ensure they can recruit the right people for the future.”
According to the report, it isn’t just primary school students who are keen to learn programming, with more than 300 parents of primary school pupils (75%) admitting they would like to learn to code to help their children with computer science homework.
The same number said they wished they had had the chance to learn code at school, as they believe it would have given them better career prospects.