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Shut Down or Restart: New UK CS Report

The Royal Society in Great Britain has just released a ground-breaking new report called Shut Down or Restart: The Way Forward for Computing in UK Schools which clearly demonstrates that the current challenges we face in K-12 computer science education are indeed global challenges..

The work behind this impressive report was carried out by the Computing at School project which did a comprehensive review of computing in UK schools. According to the Royal Society, the key points of the report are as follows:

1. The current delivery of Computing education in many UK schools is highly unsatisfactory. Although existing curricula for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) are broad and allow scope for teachers to inspire pupils and help them develop interests in Computing, many pupils are not inspired by what they are taught and gain nothing beyond basic digital literacy skills such as how to use a word-processor or a database. This is mainly because:

a. the current national curriculum in ICT can be very broadly interpreted and may be reduced to the lowest level where non specialist teachers have to deliver it
b. there is a shortage of teachers who are able to teach beyond basic digital literacy
c. there is a lack of continuing professional development for teachers of Computing
d. features of school infrastructure inhibit effective teaching of Computing

2. There is a need to improve understanding in schools of the nature and scope of Computing. In particular there needs to be recognition that Computer Science is a rigorous academic discipline of great importance to the future careers of many pupils. The status of Computing in schools needs to be recognised and raised by government and senior management in schools.

3. Every child should have the opportunity to learn Computing at school, including exposure to Computer Science as a rigorous academic discipline.

4. There is a need for qualifications in aspects of Computing that are accessible at school level but are not currently taught. There is also a need for existing inappropriate assessment methods to be updated.

5. There is a need for augmentation and coordination of current Enhancement and Enrichment activities to support the study of Computing.

6. Uptake of Computing A-level is hindered by lack of demand from higher education institutions.

The text of this report is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike and you can download the entire report from:

http://royalsociety.org/education/policy/computing-in-schools/report/

It is well worth reading.

Chris Stephenson
CSTA Executive Director

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