Coding in the UK curriculum – can I go back to school?

The Year of Code is upon us, and with it a generation of coders could be born.

I was never the kid who took apart his parent’s toaster or TV to see how it worked, or one who then moved on to tinker with cars.

I still use a physical diary to keep track of my commitments and can probably only use 0.1 per cent of Microsoft Excel’s capability.

But the concept of coding – building websites and constructing the infrastructure of a business – is something that inherently interests me.

So it is with great enthusiasm that I great the Year of Code, which will see the UK become the first major G2O country to put coding at the heart of the curriculum.

When I went to school, ICT classes consisted of dull and mindless inputting of data in Excel alongside sneaking a quick game of computer backgammon when the teacher wasn’t looking. There was nothing there to grab my attention and focus me towards developing career skills which are now heavily in demand.

Even after school clubs were medieval in their subject matter: chess, stamp collecting and more science – no, really!

Introducing the concept of computer coding, and the way the devices which we engage with everyday work, is far more useful than mastering the art of the checkmate or identifying what a Penny Black stamp looks like.

The 2014 Year of Code is aiming to make sure that schools teach every pupil at least one hour of coding during a week-long programme in March. It will be coupling that with a (rather paltry) £500,000 investment to train up teachers in coding, in the hope that matched funding can be secured from other avenues. And come September it will formally be introduced into the curriculum.

It also follows news in January that Google has partnered with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to provide 15,000 of the small single board computers it has developed to schools in Britain.

There haven’t been many occasions in the last ten years that I’ve wished I was back at school. From the constant arguments that arise regarding how children should be tested to the overcrowded classrooms that continue to bulge, it’s been a struggle.

But introducing coding into education is something which I would have greatly liked to experience. Introducing this kind of skill when minds are still fresh and receptive to new things is the right way.

The development has been heralded as one of the most important things the government has done for the future of the economy by chancellor George Osborne – and I’d have a hard time arguing with that.

With the rise of Tech City in London, and other hubs such as Dundee and Bristol, there is a continual struggle to find the right kind of staff to help grow promising technology start-ups. On GrowthBusiness we’ve covered some of the initiatives trying to pair skilled jobseekers with those looking to hire, such as Silicon Milkroundabout and Startup Institute, but those have both been later-stage developments.

We now have the chance to train up children in the art of computing science the right way, and produce a workforce which can fuel a technology revolution.

All that remains to be said is, is there a spare seat for me to learn?

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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