Breakthrough as Gove backs computer science

Breakthrough as Gove backs computer science

By Rob Crossley

December 6th 2011 at 11:10AM

Schools need coding lessons, Education Secretary claims

The campaign to revive computer science in UK schools appears to be on the cusp of triumph with Michael Gove, the most senior figure in the Department for Education, now publicly backing the bid.

The Education Secretary put an end to months of silence on the matter by explaining that ICT teaching is in need of reform and that more students should be taught to code.

“One of the problems we have had is the ICT curriculum in the past has been written for a subject that is changing rapidly all the time,” he said.

“I think what we should have is computer science in the future, and how it fits into the curriculum is something that we need to talk to scientists, to experts in coding and to young people about.”

The statement, Gove’s first on the matter, puts an end to speculation that he had not supported the call for computer science in schools.

A skills review, published in February, made twenty recommendations to remedy the so-called ‘digital skills gap’ affecting UK games development studios. Many in the industry are concerned that young British students are not being taught enough of the right skills for the new digital age of jobs.

In its delayed response to the review, the Government last week pledged to work towards developing “an attractive computer science offering for schools”.

"The Government looks forward to working with [the games industry], educators and others to develop an attractive computer science offering for schools, so that students are able to develop the rigorous skills needed – not only to support these industries but also to ensure a digitally literate citizenry," read the response.

Games industry figurehead Ian Livingstone, who co-authored the skills review, has called on the government to take the furthest possible commitment and include computer science within the national curriculum.

Develop understands that Livingstone has been in further meetings with Michael Gove’s special advisor, Dominic Cummings, to discuss the matter and wider issues.

Gove's comments continue a roll of encouraging signs for those backing the revival of computer science in school.

In November, the Prime Minister admitted the government needed to be more aware of the digital skills that are needed across numerous tech indusrtries.

Several months prior, Google chairman Eric Schmidt, one of the most influential people in global technology, said he was shocked to discover computer science was no longer taught in schools.