Cameron and Tories: Do this, do that, no money for you.
Makes me sick, it's all for show with the scumbag Tories.
A number of schools have failed to train their teachers in the government's flagship computing curriculum introduced last year, which was intended to turn Blighty into a nation of coders. One third of 27 secondary schools teaching kids up to and including GCSE level have failed to spend any money training staff in the …
Because for the most part it doesn't work. The teaching profession is still trying to master the 3R's let alone coding. Education is about indoctrination and it always struggles when it meets reality.
There is nothing stopping almost any kid in the 1st and 2nd world from learning coding if they so wish. Never have the barriers to entry been so low. If they have a passion to do so then the world is their shellfish. It is a fiction that the kids are not progressing because grubyment has not yet taken them by the hand and led them up the garden path or that grubyment is not yet spending enough of their parents money to entice strangers to offer them candy.
The kids will teach themselves if the incentives are right; the recognition of their peers (especially for girls), a space to play and a forum to develop. Councils could do far more for teaching kids coding than the central government ever could simply by providing a room, supervision, partnering with a local IT shop or two for guidance & walk-ins and by coordinating news / marketing / competitions and success stories (the kids and the method). If they could carry this program through to mentoring and early incubation then they might even develop local jobs from the initiative.
This sort of thing but for IT: https://sanfranciscoarthouses.wordpress.com/
"The teaching profession is still trying to master the 3R's let alone coding."
Teachers are the worst learners... They have a degree and a certificate, they already know it all, or so they would think. Once they get their first JJA award forget about it.
This is a generalization, but does have a kernel of truth, I was a student once, and I also work in education.
Was given some teaching materials and told to work his way through it and he attends a very good local school! His exam result was not good. The "teacher" by all accounts was about the same standard in technology skills as mine were, only my teachers had an excuse, it would 3 years before IBM relased the IBM PC.
Knowledge : Almost anyone can be taught the basics of coding which they in turn could teach to someone else. Ok let's not begin with a course on Polymorphic Abstraction within the Network layer of a IOT toaster...
Confidence : Now this becomes a lot more delicate, how do you become confident about teaching something that half the kids don't want to know about and the other half already have more knowledge and experience than you do....
£4.5m sounds like very little money to even begin scratching the surface ( No, not the MS Surface). Once you remove the backhanders/the kickbacks/the waste and the overtime, the remaining $1.60 would probably be better spent changing the kids home page to point to the "The Register"... They won't learn much but at least they could have a laugh before heading of down to the pub, the one that runs of the BOFH's UPS ....
It's Friday and I am thirsty, lets hope the Guinness cooler is on that damned UPS too.
"to the extent that we keep having to pillage the third world for theirs"
I've lived in those third world countries at various times in the past.
People do the medical courses _specifically_ to get jobs elsewhere (because that's where the money is). If the promise of overseas employment wasn't dangled as a carrot (it figures highly in all the adverts) they wouldn't be doing the courses in the first place.
There's no pillaging involved. The moment the UK and others started restricting intakes, the medical schools concerned saw a significant fall in their enrolments.
The countries in question export _people_. They regard "remittances" back to home as part of the national economy and overseas workers are regarded as semi-heroes even if they're working illegally and find themselves deported.
Of course the flipside of people going into these professions for the money is easy to see - it's no coincidence that these nationalities figure highly in patient abuse stats. They're not there for the care aspect of things and they come from cultures where casual violence and elder abuse is the norm (this is an observation from living in such places).
I dropped out of my ICT teaching course when i realised there would be the minimum of the most basic programming involved, it was clear i would be teaching what basically amounted to MS Office for beginners; Incredibly I would also have had to teach things that were patently wrong due to changes in technology, I just couldn't face years of that. It's incredibly unfair to blame the teachers, the bulk of what they teach is dictated to them, they only have leeway in how they teach it.
I had the same issue with my son, ended up teaching him to code my self.
IMHO, the issues is not only with the Politicians but us and the BCS ("Chartered Institute for IT champions") they should be acting as the link between industry, government, universities and schools to ensure the teachers are capable of producing the goods. They should also be helping to finesse the process of School children leaving schools and get IT apprenticeships, they should have an approval system for IT apprenticeships, so that school children can identify the best apprenticeships.
I have been a member of IPSE (PCG) almost since they started and they provide real value - I keep looking at the BCS and never see any value in the organisation.
There is a new curriculum for computer science at school, based on an initiative involving universities (especially Birmingham) and various big and small software companies that has been running for several years. I encourage you to take a look and participate.
'The Register asked the Department for Education how confident it is that teachers are qualified in the curriculum, and what it is doing to ensure the right capabilities are in place.
A spokesman did not respond to the specific question, but said the government has provided £4.5m to "make sure teachers have the confidence and knowledge to teach this new curriculum and are engaging leading technology companies to support schools delivering it."'
Measuring inputs not outputs.
What a coinkydink. One of our guys asked me, today, where his wife (a primary teacher) could learn how to do stuff with a raspberry pi. They'd had a load of pis dumped on them with no hints as to what to do. I was lost as to what to even suggest - mentioned it could be turned into anything from a mini desktop to a weather station to a file server to a robot.
In the end she settled for learning a bit of Python that she could pass on to the kids. Will hopefully help them create a few games and similar.
"If they did then they failed to communicate it to the teachers on the front line. "
They almost certainly maildropped every school in the country. It will have got as far as the school reception team or maybe even the school "manager", neither of whom probably knew what to do with it so binned it.
Dumping pis, that's exactly the problem teachers face. A bit of Python sounds a good use for them, although in primary, scratch is probably a better idea. But you don't need pis for these.
- computer science unplugged has all kind of ways to teach ideas away from the machines, I recommend it.
- The first lego league is an exciting thing to join in
- and if there's money and time to do something different, fun and exciting, how about the lilypad arduino?
So, I sign up to be an IT teacher at 25K a year, I only get to keep and improve my salary based on the performance of kids defined by the predicted GCSE grades at age 10 in primary school. If they fail my salary is cut, if they pass, it might be increased.
(This is actually true, teachers can have their salary cut if their pupils fail to achieve their predicted GCSE grades based on SATs they took at primary school that may bear absolutely no relevance to their GCSE subjects, and take no account of the complete character changes teenagers go through)
Bugger that for a game of soldiers, I'll do it for real and earn far more than I ever could in teaching as a coding contractor. Why would anyone want to be a teacher, let alone an IT teacher, you are certainly not rewarded unless you happen to be an Academy head. Mrs Bear is an Ofsted rated outstanding teacher, and trust me IT is a doss job compared to teaching.
"Why would anyone want to be a teacher, let alone an IT teacher".
In the UK those who want to be teachers are motivated by seeing children develop grow in there understand. If financial reward is what you are after UK teaching is not for you. Even then the bureaucracy (now too much box ticking and measuring) can make a good teachers life miserable so they leave a profession.
"In the UK those who want to be teachers are motivated by seeing children develop grow in there understand."
When you pay low figures, you find that teaching positions get filled by groups of people pushing agendas.
30-35 years ago in New Zealand, teachers started noticing a worrying number of fundamentalist christians coming in as trainees and those trainees were hellbent from the outset on pushing their worldview on impressionable young minds.
One third of 27 secondary schools teaching kids up to and including GCSE level have failed to spend any money training staff in the computing curriculum
Maybe the staff in those secondary schools already had the requisite skills?
Okay you can all stop rolling around on the floor laughing and get up now.
Pro devs, in France, have never been paid to acceptable levels.
I left this job (with a lot of sadness) in 1998, when I realised the most productive and beautifull job in IT, aka creating software, would never feed you anything best than potatoes.
it always amazes me I was able to make 4 times more by just stating the obvious as a consultant, or just RTFM and have 2 cents of common sense as an architect.
World is mad ...
And yet, when I reply to targetted emails from DoE saying "we want *YOU* to enter the teaching profession", and apply for teacher training, I get turned down. When I see the vacancies still there in Clearing and apply again, I am again turned down.
If they want more teachers, stop turning away the b****y applicants, especially the ones you specifically target to try and get into teaching.
I was in my local primary and the teacher was leading. Now, he has had all of the training that is around and has access to all the materials that have been produced to make a lesson.
It all went wrong during the lab session using scratch. One kid's effort "didn't work" and the teacher had no clue what was wrong, how to find out what was wrong and... how to get the kid to work out what was wrong.
So they're not spending enough on training but even so they are assuming that a bit of training can equip your average teacher with the critical thinking skills required to guide the kids through this.
I really doubt it.
"They are assuming that a bit of training can equip your average teacher with the critical thinking skills "
I grew up around teachers.
Most of them (~75%) have no idea what critical thinking is. They teach by rote because they learn by rote.
The ones who come via degrees are worse, because whilst they may have critical thinking skills (not necessarily at batchelor level but an absolute requirement for anything higher), they seldom have decent teaching skills.
Much of the governments interest seems to stem from the occasional youngster creating an app that makes a bit of dosh.
The idea is that all kids are capable of knocking up apps and making millions. Schools are being prodded to get kids to make apps by the bucketload in the hope that money will be made, the economy popped up and the last 'manufacturing' industry will save us all. (sorry - excite the stock market and make those who spunked our money away even richer).
Same here but double. (Knowledge gained from my significant other who is in the trade.) Monday was bank holiday, fair enough. Tuesday was 'inset' day aka teacher training (mostly pep talks from management about how well the school's doing) - kids forced to stay at home, Wednesday teacher IT training day (the system having been 'upgraded' to some new malfunctioning fleece-the-taxpayer-ware during the holidays for no clearly defined reason) - kids to stay at home again. On Thursday only the new intake of kids were allowed in - which isn't a bad idea from the new ones' point of view but nonetheless it means that the school term officially started on the 1st but the vast majority of kids weren't allowed in till the 4th which makes the bleating about parents taking their kids out of school during term time ring a little hollow.
That would be because of the need for good attendance figures....to the extent that they would prefer a child to attend school to register, even if that child then has to go/be-sent home again immediately.
They are not averse to the "fine" for non-attendance-due-to-term-time-holiday though, at £100 quid-a-kid.
If you have the knowledge, you usually have the confidence. I would rather have a knowledgeable teacher without confidence, as they will usually learn this as they teach, than someone who doesn't really know the stuff but who is sure he or she can do it.
There's nothing wrong with teaching a bit of coding - same as we should be teaching a bit of everything else to the young 'uns so they can get an idea of what they might like to do later. And it'd be good if the teachers knew something about it. (Although English teachers even in my day and even more so now, I'm reliably told, don't know diddly about English grammar either.)
But right now what the UK is lacking isn't the kids who can make a pretty picture appear on the display with some scripting language. Good luck to those who have the imagination to exploit that ability but they are a tiny minority and aren't going to make any significant impact on the UK economy.
What's missing is engineers - software, electronics and mechanical - who can design the bloody display in the first place, i.e. those that have enough breadth of knowledge of their own and the adjoining disciplines to be effective designers & implementers.
I despair of the candidates I have to interview who claim to be embedded software engineers but who, often with years of employment on their CVs in defence or mobile comms (adieu Ericsson UK R&D!), have no clue how basic TCP/IP protocols work, let alone transducers, SPI buses, phase locked loops, interrupt controllers. Hell, often they can't even do bitwise logical operations by hand.
I speak to senior (in both career & chronological terms!) electronic & mechanical engineering colleagues and they express the same frustration in their own fields.
Meh! I'll be retired and then dead soon enough.
Hit the nail on the head, didn't we?
Coding is like writing English. Its a basic skill needed for our work, we all need to be proficient in it, but at the same time for nearly all of us it isn't our actual work. I've spent most of my career writing real time software, mostly for communications. I've made quite a lot of money from it but invariably the most lucrative work hasn't been stuff I've created but rather the jobs that required me to sort out other peoples' nightmares. Its easy to write really bad code, to cobble something together so it appears to work, but without a really good understanding of what you're doing and why you just make a mess.
So, yes, by all means teach kids to code. But don't forget to teach them how to measure, plan, build, create, troubleshoot -- all those skills that are needed to solve real world problems.
If most educators in Blighty are anything like their US cousins I am not surprised at the failure. Most teachers do not understand computers and as a former instructor you can teach what you do not understand. Money for training for programming will not solve the more fundamental problem. scientific and technical illiteracy.
There are a good few on us baby boomers who have just retired or are about to retire.
Some of us have 40+ years in IT behind us.
Why not let us help?
Criminal checks - we gotta pay to prove that we aren't paedo's.
Teaching Unions - We aren't qualified teachers so expect strike action as soon as we step into the classroom
So we take our skills into the coffin.
I've given some talks about some of the projects I've worked on over the years to children (not in schools) and I know that they can be inspired but doing anything more is just too hard.
I will admit to growing up in middle America. While in High School, for two years, I attended school for half a day, and worked the other half, or so the records*cough*would reflect. Why can't the opposite work?
When I read article, then this post, I was thinking that normal classes with certified teachers would have special guest "Lecturers", from local industry for an extended educational unit... These lectures' would also be paid for working for their company, and no cost to the schools. Perhaps getting an early scouting report on students with talent that should be supported.
Professional sports do this don't they?
In the end, teaching everybody how to code enough to bork a little bit of everything probably isn't a good thing... A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
"These lectures' would also be paid for working for their company, and no cost to the schools"
Most British SMEs are firmly in the "We don't do training" camp; referring to their own employees. If they're utterly unwilling to develop their own staff, why on earth do you think they would spend time and money training kids ?!
to get public financing that they can shove into their back pocket. beats working for a living.
"Year of Code was the brainchild of former No.10 Downing Street SpAd Rohan Silva, who now works for venture capitalist Saul Klein. "
Year of code, who's who:
Rohan Silva Chairman
Entrepreneur in Residence,
Investor and Entrepreneur.
Advisor & Investor.
For 'Advisor' read slurping up public money as fast as they can 'Advise' the Govt to release it.
These scum will bleed us dry and sod off to their luxury pads, telling us it was all OUR fault that there is no money left.
Training in schools and especially colleges (where I've worked for the last ten years) is quite 'sparse' to say the least. I've recently returned to working in school teaching again after seeing so much tax-payer's money being haemorrhaged on shiny shiny technology (think iPads for staff and 72" touch-screens used only to display). I'd also suggest that there's a considerable deal of corruption and thereby misuse of any allocated funding in most FE institutions, very little ever seems to filter down to the drones working on the chalk-face.
I'd consider myself reasonably competent at programming what with having a Software Engineering degree (1st class of course - anything less is a certificate of attendance) and spending much of my own time working on hardware/software projects and thereby using a range of different programming languages. However I am quite unique and most of my ICT/Computing colleagues across the country are more geared towards the ICT (Using Computers) side of things and simply don't want to spend their weekends learning exception handling in Python.
Another major problem in education is that we are absolutely abysmal when it comes to educating/training each other. In my previous job the college paid a significant amount to have a trainer deliver some rudimentary CISCO network training to a small group of staff when they had an experienced CCAI (me) in the same room already working for them but for some reason hadn't realised this.... Ho Hum. This is just one of many examples. Schools are even worse, there are many teachers who are still terrified to turn on a computer let alone use one. I'm not sure what the answer is, but just throwing more money at the problem wont solve anything.
I teach computing at university, and we have a program supporting secondary teachers locally.
The problem of lack of training in Computing is not new - for years, IT has been given to untrained people, teachers who need spare hours because there's less demand for their work (or they are useless) (or they teach sports, and someone decided that they have time because there's no marking).
Having said that, as a specialist who meet teachers who need support, I receive a lot of marketing from companies profiting from this, and selling anything from kits and ready lessons to one-week miracle training courses.
The thing is, introducing coding in school as a serious activity was never going to work fast. There was a timing opportunity as the tories arrived in government just as we were lobbying for this change, and that speeded up the decision, but training teachers, getting the schools to employ trained people, and rebuilding the credibility that has been ravaged by nearly 20 years of stupid IT takes time. Prof Peyton-Jones, one of the main academics involved in the lobbying for code in school, calls it the "ground war", and it's going to have to be won school by school, headteacher by head teacher.
If you are in a position to influence this - a teacher, parent, professional - then support
they are free, they don't sell any snake oil, and you'll find contacts and forums to support schools, as well as materials for your classes and events worth asking for support for.
If you are in the Sheffield area, and you want to know more about what we do, I work at Sheffield Hallam University: c dot boisvert at shu dot ac dot uk.