The computing curriculum countdown: teachers need more confidence in coding

With less than six weeks until the new Computing curriculum is introduced, research reveals over 130,000 primary school teachers do not currently feel confident enough to teach their pupils how to code.

'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,' said Paul Clarke, Director of Technology at Ocado. '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.

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To help support primary school teachers deliver the new curriculum, Ocado Technology, the division that powers, 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 the Code for Life website 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.

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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.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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