27 December 2016

Last week, I read an article on the BBC website about the risk of girls and pupils from poorer backgrounds being left behind by changes to the ICT national curriculum.

code club UKFast

Teaching the next generation of tech talent.

To me, it’s shocking to read that so many young people feel like they are not the right demographic for a course in computing.

According to the figures, pupils on free school meals made up just 19% of GCSE entrants, when they are 27% of the population, and just 3.6% of students were black when they make up 4.7% of that age group. What can we do to make these courses more desirable and inclusive for all young people?

As the article mentions, it was only four years ago that ICT classes were phased out off the curriculum and instead replaced by courses in computer science. Was this the right decision? And why is it not more popular? We know that these courses are not attracting enough students; just a quarter of all students are entered for a GCSE in computing.

I agree with some of the people commenting in the BBC piece that it is a problem computing is often sold as a course to create a generation of programmers, rather than a generation full of innovative and creative problem solvers.

At UKFast, we’ve spent much of the past year engaging with young people to get them excited about the opportunities in tech and computing. We’ve been partners with the Dean Trust for many years now and we work with over 60,000 pupils across schools in Greater Manchester and the country, running Code Club and workshops – doing our part to help develop the curriculum and make it more relevant.

In my opinion, it is this combining of our experience in the industry with working with the schools and universities, that means we are in a good position to make changes – and those changes are definitely needed! During our work with schools it has become obvious that there are gaps in what traditional education teaches children and what businesses need from school leavers.

It will be another interesting year for us this year, as we keep developing our application along with the Dean Trust to launch a new secondary school in Manchester that focusses on equipping young people with the skills that they need to thrive in an ever-increasing world. I believe that by focusing on education, we will be able to really make a difference.

I believe it’s outrageous that tech has developed so much over the last decade or so, yet tech education is still struggling to keep up. It’s time for change and it’s one of my new year’s resolutions to make sure every young person has the same opportunities for a career in tech.

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