Facebook, Microsoft and IBM have all been asked by the government to help design training for new computing teachers, the BBC reports today.
Back in January, education secretary Michael Gove revealed he would be axing current ICT teacher training courses from next year, calling the current curriculum 'demotivating and dull'.
A recent panel debate at the CRN Channel Conference also highlighted this fact, with one of our panel saying schools churned out little more than glorified secretaries and data inputters, which did nothing to address the growing skills gap.
The sad thing is, our industry is a fantastic one to be in and very exciting. It is not all geeks, bits and bytes. There is a lot more to it. But it is constantly portrayed as uncool and not the place to be, so consequently hardly any students come out of education thinking "I want to work in the IT industry".
I remember back in my day (I think the wheel was invented at that point), we sat in this dingy classroom with a few BBC computers and I just wanted to dash my head against the desk.The highlight was getting my computer to utter a profanity. Unfortunately for me the teacher happened to walk past my desk at the same time.
I was a bit of a troublemaker in my early school days, some of you may be surprised to know!!
We progressed to a full-blown computer room when our school moved premises, but the lessons were so deathly boring I completely switched off. I can't even remember the name of my IT teacher, but he certainly fit the stereotype and really didn't look like he was enjoying himself any more than we were.
I even remember handing in a word processed essay to my GCSE English teacher once, and she went mad. "Hand-written work only please" I was told. How times have changed!
Back to the present, according to the BBC report, the Royal Society also found that computer education in English schools was 'highly unsatisfactory' and highlighted a shortage of teachers capable of teaching computer science. (Even the name sounds dull doesn't it?)
Now ministers will be offering a £20,000 golden handshake to students that graduate from university with a 2:1 degree or higher, to train on one of the new courses. To qualify they will need a good understanding of computer science concepts such as algorithms, logic, data networks and the internet.
They eventually want to have one or two full trained teachers in every school.
In a dramatic statement, Gove told the BBC: "Computer science is not just a rigorous, fascinating and intellectually challenging subject. It is also vital to our success in the global race. If we want our country to produce the next Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the internet, we need the very best computer science teachers in our classrooms. They need to have the right skills and deep subject knowledge to help their pupils."
I don't know if that is the answer, perhaps calling it something other than computer science might be a start - the name just sends me to sleep. Young people need to know there is a whole world of IT out there for them to grab - particularly in the channel.
I cannot divulge too many details, but we at CRN are working on something right now for next year that we are hoping will cause a lot of excitement in the industry, based right around this very subject. I am very excited about this and hope to be able to reveal a little more soon.
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