Education secretary unveils £3.5m investment at Bett 2015

Nicky Morgan unveiled the government and IT industry's plans to train primary school teachers and offer more support

Education secretary Nicky Morgan has unveiled an array of technology education projects at Bett 2015, including a £3.5m injection from the government and support from major IT companies.

The Department for Education (DfE) has agreed to match-fund for projects as the government announced plans to spend £3.5m to further help schools deploy the new computing curriculum.

During her keynote at the technology show, Morgan said with a significant number of future jobs being in the tech industry the government is comitted to encouraging tech companies to connect with schools.

“Increasing the focus on subjects like computing is a key part of our plan for education," she said. "This is why we are investing in the latest training and support, so our teachers are fully prepared to plan, teach and assess the new computing curriculum.”

Morgan said the UK is fortunate to have "some of the best teachers, best schools and best educational technology companies in the world", and the government is keen to do more in schools to harness the potential of education technology. 

"To do so, we must show the same creativity of spirit, the same vision and the same enthusiasm that we have had in reforming our school system in this parliament," she added.

“Those changes have dragged our education system from the 20th to the 21st century, but we cannot let things rest there. We must always strive for more. We must be prepared to innovate, to break the mould and to change.”

Training projects match-funded

In February 2014 DfE announced a £500,000 fund, while industry groups and computing organisations were invited to pitch for training projects that would be match-funded.

In addition, companies including the likes of O2, HP, IBM and Google have announced their experts will be going into primary schools to provide the latest training. New online resources will be made available to teachers and pupils to help them to learn.

“I am delighted that once again top industry experts have taken an active role in helping develop these projects, and I look forward to seeing them pay dividends in our classroom," said Morgan.

“Introducing children to computing and coding from an early age is all part of the government’s long-term plan to ensure young people have the first-class education they need to succeed and make sure Britain leads the global race in innovation. 

"The new computing curriculum began in September 2014 and sees pupils taught how to code and use a range of programming languages.”

Elsewhere, BT recently extended its funding for BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT’s Barefoot Computing Project.

The project was previously funded by the DfE from September 2014 to March 2015 and has now been extended until the end of the school year.

Without the fund it would have taken several years to do what we are now doing within months, and it would have been impossible to achieve the same standards

Peter Millican, University of Oxford

Additionally, Microsoft and Computing At School (CAS) recently launched QuickStart Computing. With funding from Microsoft and the DfE, CAS produced the training toolkit for teachers.

BCS director of education Bill Mitchell said by Microsoft and the DfE matching funding the QuickStart Computing project will be able to provide Continuing Professional Development toolkits to 40,000 teachers by April 2015, as well as providing free online access to the QuickStart resources for teachers everywhere. 

"This will help teachers gain the knowhow to design, develop and deliver the whole of the new computing curriculum so that it benefits all primary and secondary students, whatever their ability,” he said.

Professor of philosophy at the University of Oxford's Hertford College, Peter Millican, said: "The DfE’s Computing Matched Fund and the sponsorship it has attracted is enabling us to support the new computing curriculum quickly and effectively, with software that encourages creativity and a web community that provides both teaching materials and a coursework platform – all free to teachers and students.

“Without the fund it would have taken several years to do what we are now doing within months, and it would have been impossible to achieve the same standards.”

Code Club Pro head Lauren Hyams said the organisation is delighted to be supported by the DfE and industry partners Google, ARM and Postcode Anywhere. 

"By combining our volunteers’ expertise and enthusiasm with our experience running code clubs, we are able to give teachers the confidence and understanding they need to embrace the new curriculum and inspire our children to become digital makers.”

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