Press release

Facebook, Microsoft and BCS back government funding for computer science teaching

Education Minister Elizabeth Truss announces more than £2 million of funding so the best computing teachers can help train thousands more teachers.

Education Minister Elizabeth Truss today announced more than £2 million of funding so the best computing teachers can help train thousands more to teach the rigorous new curriculum.

The funding will allow BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, to recruit 400 master teachers in computer science over the next 2 years, by building on its existing network of excellence in teaching computer science (NoE).

Each master teacher will pass on their skills and subject knowledge to 40 schools - so that computing teachers in 16,000 primary and secondary schools will be in position to deliver the computer science element of the new computing curriculum and the new computer science GCSE. This continuous professional development programme will enhance the preparations that schools will already be making so they can deliver the new curriculum.

Computing (previously ICT) will remain a statutory subject for all pupils in primary and secondary school. The draft curriculum has a strong emphasis on the principles of computer science and practical programming, including algorithms, coding and hardware. Computer science will be included as a science option for the English Baccalaureate from January 2014.

Elizabeth Truss made the announcement at an event co-hosted by Facebook and the Gates Foundation, the charitable organisation run by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda.

She said:

Computer science is a rigorous, fascinating and intellectually challenging subject. The new computing curriculum will mean pupils have a real understanding of how digital technologies work - allowing them to create new technologies rather than being passive consumers of them.

This brings exciting challenges for computing teachers - we are raising our expectations of the subject knowledge they should have, including how computers work, programming and coding.

We want a generation of children being taught how to write computer animations or design apps for smartphones - not be bored by lessons in how to fill in spreadsheets or learn word processing.

These master teachers will spread good practice, knowledge and expertise throughout schools.

Bill Mitchell, director of BCS Academy of Computing, part of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, said:

Children from the age of 5 will be taught computer science once the new statutory curriculum for computing comes into force. Therefore we need to ensure all teachers can teach the computer science and programming elements of the new curriculum.

I am delighted that the Department for Education is extending the funding for the network of teaching excellence in computer science.

Our plan now is to work in partnership with the Computing At School group (CAS), universities and schools to extend the network into a national infrastructure that can provide CPD opportunities for 16,000 teachers over the next 2 years.

Steve Beswick, director of education, Microsoft, said:

Microsoft is delighted that the DfE is supporting the BCS/CAS Network of Excellence.

We need our children to learn the foundations of computational thinking at school so that they have the knowledge and skills they need to build successful careers here in the UK. This belief is integral to our Get On programme which aims to help 300,000 young people get inspired, get skilled and get a job. We will continue to work with DfE and teachers to help schools deliver the new computing curriculum.

Simon Milner, Director of Policy, UK & Ireland, Facebook, said:

It’s vital for young people to receive the best digital education possible so we’re pleased to see today’s announcement.

The UK’s digital industries offer awesome opportunities for young people, and it’s important that schools and educational institutions receive the necessary backing to enable pupils to grasp those opportunities.

Through our partnerships with organisations like Apps for Good, we’ve seen first-hand that with the right teaching, many young people can go all the way. Today’s announcement will help young people to develop and put their skills to good use.

Simon Peyton-Jones, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research Cambridge, said:

As Chair of the CAS working group, I am absolutely delighted to see the DfE putting substantial support into equipping our excellent ICT teachers to deliver computer science, as part of the new computing curriculum. The challenge is enormous, and the timescale is short: I hope this grant will be spark that ignites a broad partnership of schools, universities, employers, and professional bodies to inspire, support, and encourage our teachers as they move forward.

Professor Steve Furber CBE FRS FREng, chair of the working group for the Royal Society’s report Shut down or restart? The way forward for computing in UK schools, said:

We are very pleased that the DfE has taken on board another of the key recommendations of our report by beginning to address our concerns about the number of teachers with sufficient subject knowledge and understanding to deliver a rigorous computing curriculum.

This funding is a very welcome contribution towards the professional development of the large number of specialist teachers that are needed to deliver an ambitious curriculum that truly excites students about future opportunities in computing.

Ian Livingstone, Chair Next Gen Skills, said:

I’m delighted that £2 million of funding is being provided by government to enable the BCS to recruit 400 master teachers to form a network of teaching excellence in computer science to deliver the new curriculum. This is a very important step to fast forward the teaching of essential skills for the digital world in which today’s children live, to enable them to create technology rather than being simply passive users of it. Digital manufacturing and services are becoming main drivers of the UK economy.

The Department for Education has already announced that it is offering scholarships and bursaries to recruit and train talented new teachers and have prepared others through subject knowledge enhancement courses.

Notes to editors

  1. The DfE funding to BCS is £2.085 million for 2 years (2013 to 2014 and 2014 to 2015)

  2. BCS is the Chartered Institute for IT and accredits computer science and IT qualifications, including almost all university computer science degrees.

  3. The DfE previously provided BCS with £150,000 in the year 2012 to 2013 to establish the network of teaching excellence for computer science teachers. This network has forged links between schools, universities and employers. BCS has also harnessed pro bono support from organisations such as Microsoft and Google. Since September 2012 the network has created an initial cohort of 28 master teachers in computer science teachers to lead CPD programmes for other local teachers. More than 120 schools have committed to becoming lead schools that support the development of CPD for other schools. DfE funding supports the release of teachers to participate in the network, and most administration and management time is provided pro bono.

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