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£3.6 million for technology experts to train computing teachers

Companies including O2 and Google are helping to ensure pupils receive the best standards of computing teaching.

£3.6 million is to be provided to launch top technology experts - from firms including O2 and Google - into schools up and down the country to help prepare England’s primary school teachers for the new computing curriculum.

In a speech at the annual BETT conference in London yesterday (21 January 2015) Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announced 5 new projects that will see major tech companies parachuting experts in to top-tier universities like Queen Mary University of London, UCL and Oxford to provide the latest training.

An initial batch of projects was announced in June 2014, when Microsoft and IBM were among the companies to offer training to more than 43,000 teachers in the first year of the new computing curriculum. Among the services provided through the 5 new projects will be online seminars, national conferences, thousands of booklets for teachers, and video examples of teaching approaches.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said:

We know a significant number of jobs in the future will be in the tech industry, which is why we are committed to supporting tech companies to connect with our schools - preparing young people to succeed in the global race.

Increasing the focus on subjects like computing is a key part of our plan for education - which is why we are investing in the latest training and support so our teachers are fully prepared to plan, teach and assess the new computing curriculum.

I am delighted that once again top industry experts have taken an active role in helping develop these projects, and I look forward to seeing them pay dividends in our classroom.

Introducing children to computing and coding from an early age is all part of the government’s long-term plan to ensure young people have the first-class education they need to succeed and make sure Britain leads the global race in innovation. The new computing curriculum began in September 2014 and sees pupils taught how to code and use a range of programming languages.

More than 4 million primary school children have already received lessons through the new curriculum, which puts much more emphasis on experience of programming and understanding the fundamental principles of computer science.

These latest projects will complement ongoing sector-led work funded by the government to train teachers in how to deliver the new curriculum, including:

  • providing the British Computer Society (BCS) with more than £2 million to set up a network of 400 ‘master teachers’ to train teachers in other schools and provide resources for use in the classroom
  • providing £1.1 million to Computing at School to help train primary teachers already working in the classroom through online resources and school workshops
  • increasing bursaries for those wanting to become computing teachers
  • introducing computing teacher training scholarships of £25,000 - backed by Microsoft, Google, IBM and Facebook - to encourage more of the very best graduates to become teachers

The Department for Education (DfE) is match-funding all the projects as part of a £3.6 million package support to schools. A £500,000 fund was launched by DfE in February 2014, with industry groups and computing organisations invited to submit proposals for training projects that would be match-funded.

Bill Mitchell, Director of Education for the BCS, said:

Thanks to Microsoft’s and the DfE’s matched funding the QuickStart Computing project will be able to provide CPD toolkits to 40,000 teachers by April, as well as providing free online access to the QuickStart resources for teachers everywhere. This will help teachers gain the knowhow to design, develop and deliver the whole of the new computing curriculum so that it benefits all primary and secondary students, whatever their ability.

Professor Peter Millican, Professor of Philosophy, Hertford College, and Faculties of Philosophy and Computer Science, Oxford, said:

The DfE’s Computing Matched Fund, and the sponsorship it has attracted, is enabling us to support the new computing curriculum quickly and effectively, with software that encourages creativity and a web community that provides both teaching materials and a coursework platform, all free to teachers and students. Without the fund it would have taken several years to do what we are now doing within months, and it would have been impossible to achieve the same standards.

Lauren Hyams, Head of Code Club Pro, said:

We’re delighted to be supported by DfE and our industry partners, Google, ARM and Postcode Anywhere. By combining our volunteers’ expertise and enthusiasm with our experience running Code Clubs, we are able to give teachers the confidence and understanding they need to embrace the new curriculum and inspire our children to become digital makers.

In a separate development, the British Computer Society announced on Monday (19 January 2015) an extension to the successful Barefoot computing project, funded by BT.

The project, which supports primary school teachers teaching the computing curriculum, was originally funded by DfE from September 2014 to March 2015, and the latest funding will extend it to the end of this school year.

In her speech the Secretary of State also welcomed a series of recommendations from the ETAG (Education Technology Advisory Group).

ETAG was established by the government in 2014 with a remit to investigate how digital technology might empower teachers and learners by enabling innovation using new smart technologies.

Notes to editors

latest projects

  1. A consortium led by Queen Mary University of London working closely with Hertford College, Oxford will use £25,000 DfE funding and a further £25,000 matched funding from Google, the UCL led CHI+MED project, the faculty of philosophy at the University of Oxford and a private philanthropist to create a range of resources that will support teachers in promoting the development of computing-related thinking skills. These include 16,000 booklets for teachers on computing-related thinking across the curriculum and further development of the Turtle programming system, which makes text-based programming easier to teach so that it is fully available online.

  2. DigitalMe, supported by £50,000 from DfE and £50,000 in matched funding from O2 Telefonica, will develop a set of badges designed to recognise and motivate improvement in teachers’ knowledge and classroom application of the computing curriculum. The system will encourage peer-to-peer training by recognising teachers who pass on their skills to other teachers. To claim badges teachers will have to complete badge missions tasks and challenges contained within a badge and upload evidence of their skill development. There will be badges for each content area of the curriculum.

  3. Our Lady’s Catholic High School has been supporting teachers nationwide since 2011 to introduce and develop outstanding computing in their schools. They will use £42,000 funding from DfE matched by the Rasberri Pi foundation, to extend the current offer to a wider geographical base of schools than they are supporting. In particular, they will be looking to support teachers in schools serving communities with the highest levels of social and economic disadvantage. Specific activities will include 18 2-day, nationwide, school-based events for 460 teachers and 8,000 pupils, opportunities for teachers to observe lessons delivered by outstanding computing teachers, 28 online public seminars and a national conference.

  4. The Titan Partnership will use £15,500 DfE funding and a further £15,500 from other supporters to engage a minimum of 60 teachers (40 secondary and 20 primary) in a personalised computer science training programme. Participants will complete subject knowledge audits and will be trained in line with personalised action plans with SMART targets. The training will include modules on computational thinking and networking being developed by Newman University and Birmingham City University. Bi-monthly training sessions will be led by expert practitioners and further level 3 and level 7 accredited courses will also be offered by Birmingham City University and Newman University staff.

  5. The Centre for Educational Consultancy and Development at Oxford Brookes University is developing online computing CPD for primary school teachers, with help from £15,000 from DfE and £15,000 from the University of Northampton and Turn IT On. This will include delivering training via a massive open online course (MOOC) and running a number of TeachMeet style events that will be recorded and uploaded into the online environment to provide case study examples of computing teaching in schools. These case studies will include video examples of teaching approaches, resources materials and lesson plans.

DfE enquiries

Central newsdesk 020 7783 8300

General enquiries 0370 000 2288


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