Google to help fund ICT teaching in the UK

He has warned that the UK was “throwing away its great computing heritage” by focusing on using software rather than how it was made.

Those comments came last year at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, and are thought to have prompted the government to revamp the curriculum to incorporate programming and other tech skills.

The teaching of information and communications technology (ICT) was deemed inadequate in a fifth of secondary schools in England, by an Ofsted report at the end of last year. Teachers were said to lack the expertise and confidence to teach the topic. The report also said areas such as databases and programming were poorly taught, with some pupils making more progress outside lessons than in them.

Speaking at London”s Science Museum, Mr Schmidt outlined further plans: “Put simply, technology breakthroughs can”t happen without the scientists and engineers to make them. The challenge that society faces is to equip enough people, with the right skills and mindset, and to get them to work on the most important problems.”

While he acknowledged that some progress had been made in the teaching of ICT, he described computer science education in the UK as still being in a “sorry state”.

The funds being made available will support Teach First – a charity which puts “exceptional” graduates on a six-week training programme before deploying them to schools where they teach classes over a two-year period. According to Schmidt the donation will be used to train “more than 100 first rate science teachers over the next three years, with the majority focused on computer science”.

Each of the 100 teachers will have a bursary to buy equipment relating to their teaching. The Raspberry Pi, a low-cost computer designed in the UK, will be used in the scheme.

At present the scheme is limited to just seven regions of England: East Midlands; Kent and Medway; London; North East; North West; West Midlands; and Yorkshire and Humber.

Schmidt said that he hoped up to 20,000 students would benefit in “disadvantaged communities”.


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