Teachers: how ready are you for the computing revolution?

As primary schools reopen their doors to begin the second term of teaching the new computing curriculum, a survey conducted by Microsoft and CAS has confirmed that 69% of teachers enjoy teaching the subject, which is now compulsory for all pupils from the age of five. However, the results also reveal that there is still some way to go before teachers feel fully confident about delivering computing lessons to classes of tech-savvy youngsters, as 81% have called for more training, development and learning materials.

Today, QuickStart Computing, a new set of resources developed by CAS and jointly funded by Microsoft and the Department for Education become available for the first time. The materials are designed to help teachers get the most of the curriculum, and can be downloaded at www.quickstartcomputing.org. Resources include videos, interactive tools and a teacher’s handbook.

The demand for these resources has been underpinned by data collected from the survey, which investigates pupil and teacher attitudes towards computing in the classroom. The results, released today, also reveal that two thirds of primary and secondary teachers are concerned that their pupils still have a better understanding of computing than they do, and many teachers lack the confidence that they need to deliver the new curriculum. The issue becomes even more clear when combined with results from a second survey, which showed that nearly half (47%) of young people aged 9-16 years claim that their teachers needed more training and 41% admitted to regularly helping their teachers use technology.

The new QuickStart Computing materials for teachers

The changes made to the curriculum in September 2014 are good news for the UK’s technology industry, and hold the key to helping develop a strong pipeline of talent to fill the growing number of jobs which require knowledge of computer science and coding. The UKCES predicts (Careers of the Future, Nov 2014) there will be 146,000 job openings in IT between 2012 and 2022, with jobs commanding an average salary of £38K. By supporting the development of these new resources, Microsoft hopes to be able to help teachers get more out of the new curriculum, in turn opening the eyes of more young people to the exciting career possibilities available to them.

Microsoft’s UK CEO, Michel Van der Bel remarks: “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 provided well over £300,000 for the QuickStart Computing initiative in order to support teachers in creating modern, exciting and engaging lessons that will inspire a new generation of digital stars.

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,” said Simon Peyton Jones, Chairman of CAS. “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.”

The QuickStart Computing 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.