Almost 70% of teachers think they do not have the skills to teach coding

Many teachers feel ill-equipped to deliver the UK’s computing curriculum, survey reveals

Most teachers do not think they have the right skills or tools to teach coding to children, according to research by BJSS and YouGov.

The study found that 67% of teachers in the UK believe they cannot teach coding effectively to schoolchildren between the ages of eight and 15 because of a lack of skills and teaching tools, and just under 40% said they did not have access to the right technology software and hardware to teach coding.

Glynn Robinson, managing director at BJSS, said: “To safeguard the UK’s digital competitiveness, it is crucial that primary and secondary school teachers are properly equipped and resourced to teach the digital and coding skills that will be required by the time today’s schoolchildren enter the workforce.”

In 2014, the UK government introduced the computing curriculum to teach children between the ages of five and 16 coding and computational thinking, and it is now thought that in the near future, all jobs, regardless of whether or not they are technology roles, will require at least basic digital skills.

But many teachers are ill-equipped to deliver this specialised curriculum, especially those teaching younger children because they need to have a more general view of several different subjects.

There is also a lack of diversity in the technology industry, not just surrounding the lack of women, but also the lack of people from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.

In the survey, teachers said it was important to try to help those who might not come from a privileged background, with 71% saying it is important to provide coding lessons for children from less privileged socio-economic backgrounds, and 65% saying it is important to provide extra teaching support for children who are struggling with coding.

Something else that 60% of teachers thought important was providing subsidies for personal computing equipment for children between the ages of eight and 15.

More than 80% of the teachers also thought the Department for Education should provide better training for teachers in primary and secondary schools, and 76% thought it was important for techn firms to engage with local schools to establish what skills are needed and how they can be taught.

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Many firms complain that young people leaving education do not have the skills needed to fill vacant digital roles, and collaboration between the government, education providers and industry has been cited as a way to avoid this in future.

Robinson said: “We believe that companies like BJSS have a role to play in ensuring that the skills of the next generation of IT talent are properly developed.”

Many organisations have tried to address this need for collaboration, including Ada, the National College for Digital Skills, which has partnered with several technology businesses, including BJSS, to teach children appropriate skills and feed the tech talent pipeline locally.

The government has also called on employers to share what digital skills are needed now and what skills may be required in the future to help determine the UK’s digital skills requirements.

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