Computing Curriculum Countdown: Over 130,000 Primary School Teachers Don’t Feel Confident Enough to Teach Computer Coding

Many primary school teachers feel they haven’t been given the necessary resources to teach the new Computing curriculum from September. To help, Ocado Technology has launched Code for Life, a nationwide initiative to give every child in the country “coding survival skills”

With less than six weeks until the new Computing curriculum is introduced, research reveals over 130,000[1] primary school teachers do not currently feel confident enough to teach their pupils how to code. Paul Clarke, Director of Technology at Ocado, said: “Teaching children to program is not just about nurturing the next generation of software engineers; being able to write code is a transformative and disruptive meta-skill that needs to be seen as being of huge potential value whatever your future holds.  I would go so far as to say that it is a survival skill that our children need to acquire to flourish in the increasingly digital and online future that awaits them.”

The poll of 250 English primary school teachers also reveals how 73% feel they have not been given the necessary resources – such as access to sufficient hardware, resources and training – to teach the new Computing curriculum from this September. 

To help support primary school teachers deliver the new curriculum, Ocado Technology, the division that powers Ocado.com, the world’s largest online-only grocery retailer, has launched the Code for Life initiative to get every child in the country coding. As the first supermarket to be born in the digital age, Ocado understands the importance of cultivating the next generation of computer scientists. Just as Ocado’s technology experts have used game-changing technology to revolutionise the way people buy groceries, Code for Life will help equip pupils with the skills needed to revolutionise the industries of tomorrow.

At the heart of the Code for Life initiative is Rapid Router, a free comprehensive coding teaching resource, the first version of which is targeted at Key Stage 1 and lower Key Stage 2. The resource, which is available from 1st September 2014, features a fun and engaging educational web application and a series of lesson plans, unplugged activity guides and coding careers videos. To ensure every pupil is challenged regardless of their ability, the web app features more than 25 levels which increase in complexity as pupils master new functions (e.g. repeat loops), as well as a “create” function where pupils can build their own challenges.

It has been developed in conjunction with experienced primary computing and ICT teachers and tested by over 150 pupils. 214,200 primary school teachers are now being encouraged to pre-register at www.codeforlife.education to get information and access the free resource from 1st September.

Committed to inspiring the next generation of software engineers, Ocado Technology employees have volunteered more than 400 hours to the creation of the Rapid Router web app. Based on one of the many complex challenges Ocado Technology faces on a daily basis, the app aims to highlight the everyday application of coding while helping teachers meet the requirements of the new curriculum. It forms the first in a series of educational resources being created by Ocado Technology based on real life challenges within its business to inspire young people to take up a career in computer science. 

It will help pupils form a solid foundation to progress to the next level of coding by providing a seamless transition from Blockly, an easy-to-use visual programming language, to Python, a more complex, widely-used programming language. The Python extension will be available later in the academic year in an updated version of the web app, enabling children of mixed abilities and ages to tackle the same problem at different levels.

 

The Rapid Router resource features:

Element

Description

Web application

A multi-level educational web application built on ‘Blockly’, an easy to use visual programming language. Pupils use the web application to learn the basics of coding by programming a delivery van to drive around a series of different routes which get progressively more complex as pupils progress through the game. Pupils can start where they left off using cloud saves, while teachers can track individual pupil progress and identify where more support is required

Lesson plans

A comprehensive pack of lesson plans for Key Stage 1 and lower Key Stage 2 (upper Key Stage 2 will be available later in the academic year), giving primary school teachers a range of unplugged and web app-based activities to conduct in the classroom. As well as ideas for starter, main and plenary activities, each includes learning expectations, teacher preparation guide, National Curriculum links, assessment suggestions, follow up ideas and pupil resources

Unplugged activities

A range of pupil resources for teachers and parents to use away from the computer

Coding careers videos

A series of eight videos which detail the range of coding careers which young people could aspire to

 

Fran Worby, Year 4 teacher at Tudor Primary School, commented: “This is a fantastic resource. It clearly introduces the language of coding to children in a fun and engaging way.  It also allows children to develop their understanding in this area of the curriculum by introducing coding language in small manageable chunks – offering excellent progression.

“Coding was a whole new area for me, let alone the children, and this teaching pack has made it easy to get started with the requirements of the new curriculum.”

Paul Clarke, Director of Technology at Ocado, said: “As a technology company at its core, Ocado relies on recruiting a constant stream of the brightest and best software engineers and other IT specialists to fuel its continued growth and disruptive innovation.

“We wanted to find a way to give something back by investing in the next generation of computer scientists, while hopefully increasing the number of girls selecting technology subjects.

“As a key strand in our CSR strategy, Code for Life provides a tangible and relevant way for our engineers to volunteer their time to help support the introduction of computing into the primary school curriculum in September. This marks the start of a new, exciting and ongoing journey for Ocado Technology.”

Paulina Koch, Ocado Technology intern, said: “I’ve been working with developers from across Ocado Technology who’ve volunteered to build this resource after work and at weekends. I’ve loved having the opportunity to work with teachers and pupils to ensure the app delivers exactly what they need. Knowing it will be used by thousands of pupils around the country to gain skills that will benefit their future is a really exciting prospect.”

A Year Five pupil from North London, said: “We’ve been using the Rapid Router game for a few months now and we love it. I like the challenge of the harder levels, but the best bit is the where you get to create your own maps.”

As part of the Code for Life initiative, Ocado Technology has partnered with The National Museum of Computing, in Bletchley Park, to deliver the Weekend Codability project, launching in September, enabling young visitors to experience computer programming for the first time.

 

 

To register interest in Code for Life, and watch the video, teachers simply need to visit: www.codeforlife.education

 

[1] 61 per cent of primary school teachers, equivalent to 130,662 primary school teachers, do not currently feel confident enough to teach their pupils how to code, according to research by Vision Critical. Based on total number of 214,200 LA maintained primary school teachers (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-workforce-in-england-november-2013)

 

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