Royal Society calls for computer science discipline in schools

Greater incentives for teachers and improved computer science lessons are two of many recommendations in the Royal Society's report.

School

The Royal Society has labelled current computing education in schools as "highly unsatisfactory," as it called for greater integration of computer science.

The education system is suffering from a shortage of teachers able to teach beyond basic digital literacy, as well as a weak curriculum, a report from the Royal Society claimed.

It also claimed there was a "lack of demand from higher education institutions."

"The arguments for reforming computing education are not purely utilitarian," said Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society, in his foreword for the organisation's report.

We need to make sure that the very latest technologies are getting into the classroom.

"It is becoming increasingly clear studying computer science provides a 'way of thinking' in the same way that mathematics does, and that there are therefore strong educational arguments for taking a careful look at how and when we introduce young people to the subject."

The report called for every child to be able to learn computing at school, "from the beginning of primary education onwards." It also recommended setting recruitment targets for teachers, as well as providing training bursaries to attract qualified graduates into training.

Kevin Streater, executive director for IT and telecoms at the Open University, welcomed moves to bring computer science into schools, but recommended greater imbedding of technology across school departments.

"We need to make sure that the very latest technologies are getting into the classroom and being used across the curriculum in the appropriate places," Streater said.

"Using Google Earth in geography, records indexing in history and analysis techniques in Maths can all give a more real world feel to pupils and excite them with how technology might be used in their career."

The report came in the same week that education secretary Michael Gove announced plans for a complete overhaul of IT in schools.

Gove's plans include greater integrating of computer science, as well as handing greater control over curricula to schools.

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