Computing teachers need more training, say students

After the first term of the computing curriculum in UK primary and secondary schools, 47% of students claim teachers need more training

Nearly half (47%) of England’s computing students claim teachers need more training in a survey revealing their opinions of the curriculum’s first term.

The survey of 2,000 young people, conducted by Computing at School (CAS) and Microsoft, found students aged 9-16 claim teachers need more support, with 41% claiming to regularly help teachers in using technology.

Although almost three-quarters of teachers (73%) said they felt confident in delivering the computing curriculum content, many expressed a lack of confidence in several areas – including creating and debugging computer programmes and computer coding.

Of the 300 teachers surveyed, 69% said they enjoyed teaching computing, but 81% called for more training, development and learning materials.

The survey found 41% of students want to learn more computing but said too little was taught in schools.

Some 67% of teachers said their computing pupils are interested and engaged in the subject. Almost a quarter (24%) of teachers admitted to having no experience in the subject until the curriculum started in September 2014.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “I am delighted that our world-leading computing curriculum has got off to such a strong start. Giving young people a solid grounding in computing from an early age is a key part of our plan for education, ensuring they are prepared to succeed in modern Britain.

“More than four million primary school children have already received computing lessons, which I hope will empower and inspire more young people and open their eyes to the exciting opportunities available.”

Training toolkit

Microsoft and CAS recently launched QuickStart Computing. With funding from Microsoft and the Department for Education, Computing At School produced the training toolkit for teachers.

Available for download, the toolkit includes videos, interactive tools, teacher’s handbook and links to other resources to build teachers' confidence in teaching the computing curriculum.

Morgan said: “QuickStart Computing is an important national programme that will help all computing teachers to confidently plan, teach and assess the new computing curriculum. We value the funding Microsoft has provided and it’s essential we work in partnership with industry and teacher networks like Computing At School.”

Michel Van der Bel, CEO of Microsoft UK, said: “There is a moment of magic when you see a young person make something totally unique happen on a screen. Something they had imagined and then made real through code. But to get to that moment we need passionate people who have the right skills and knowledge to help give young people the building blocks they need.

“Microsoft has provided well over £300,000 for the QuickStart Computing initiative to support teachers in creating modern, exciting and engaging lessons that will inspire a new generation of digital stars. These materials are available for free and we urge teachers to visit the QuickStart Computing website today to see how they can start getting even more out of the new curriculum.” 

Simon Peyton Jones, chairman of CAS said: “We should be very proud of our teachers, who are engaging so positively with the new computing, and are now inspiring and exciting children about computing in schools up and down the country.

“CAS believes in the value of high-quality, continuous professional development for teachers, and the role of working groups like CAS in instilling confidence and sharing ideas and best practice. We are delighted that, from today, we can share QuickStart Computing with all schools and teachers that need it.”

More than half of young people (58%) said they regularly help their parents use technology.

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