BETT Show 2014: Computer Science for kids

Over the past two to three years, there has been a close focus on the development of how schools not only use technology, but also how technology is taught. Last year, Microsoft was a member of a wider technology sector coalition that successfully lobbied for Computer Science to be added to the primary school National Curriculum.

This year, with the initial battle won, there was a genuine concern amongst educators that taking on the teaching of Computer Science – which enters the National Curriculum in September – is likely to be a major challenge.

These sentiments were echoed by Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove, who opened the 30th BETT Show at London’s Excel centre yesterday. Regularly drawing crowds of over 30,000 people each year, the BETT Show provides an annual opportunity to take stock and look ahead at the major issues likely to affect the sector in the coming years. Once again this year, the teaching of computer science dominated discussions on stands and in cafes.

Steve Beswick is Microsoft’s Senior Director of Education in the UK and he thinks that teaching computer science at primary level is “absolutely critical for the future success of our young people. The challenge now is to ensure that primary teachers are equipped to deliver it come the new term time.”

Not ones to shirk a challenge, Microsoft this year pledged to help 160,000 primary school teachers prepare for the new subject. The success of teaching computer science depends on our teachers, and with the help of the First Class Computing programme, we’re confident that they will be able to meet that challenge head on.

Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, at this years BETT show
Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, at this years BETT show

January 22, 2014

So, what’s in this programme? It includes a series of teacher training roadshows across the UK that are set up to give teachers the confidence – and let’s hope inspiration! – to really get under the skin of computer science. Alongside this programme, we’ve been working behind the scenes with publishers, Rising Stars. Between us, we’ve come up with a brand new package of resources called Switched on Computing. These materials are designed to primarily for teachers to develop the skills, confidence and tools to deliver the new curriculum by the time it kicks in, in nine months’ time.

The new subject will be called ‘Computing’ and replaces the old ICT subject from last year’s curriculum. It will be taught in schools from September this year.