Feb 11, 2014
Learn-to-Code Effort Comes to U.K. Schools
By Parminder Bahra
Like kids everywhere, U.K. schoolchildren know all about using tablets and PCs. Now they’re about to learn how to create programs to run on them.
The U.K. government last week launched a promotional effort for its new computer-coding curriculum, aiming eventually to teach coding to all students ages 5 through 16. Tech firms such as GoogleGOOG +1.46% and MicrosoftMSFT +0.99% helped to design the curriculum, along with the Royal Society of Engineering.
The government says the U.K. will be the first G20 country to implement the teaching of coding on a national level.
The effort is off to a relatively modest start, with the establishment of a £500,000 ($823,000) government fund to support training teachers. The government intends to match private donations to the program, for a total potential outlay of £1 million.
Last week’s launch event got a royal boost from the presence of Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.
The prince met with trainers and teachers at an open day to highlight the importance of coding skills in the workplace at the offices of Decoded, a startup that offers one-day, £275 coding courses for teachers. An anonymous donor has backed a separate teacher-training effort through Decoded that the company says should allow it to train two teachers at each of the U.K.’s roughly 22,000 state-funded schools.
Prince Andrew spoke about the importance of coding skills among children and in the workplace, and he went on to give some insight into the royal family’s relationship with technology.
For one thing, you’re not alone in hunting around your home or office for the strongest Wi-Fi signal: The prince said Wi-Fi used to be available only in certain parts of Buckingham Palace, so you’d find members of the royal household huddled in a Wi-Fi hot spot.
He also said that the British monarchy has yet to develop any apps—an incentive, perhaps, for any budding schoolchild programmer to put his or her new skills into practice.
Watch the video above to hear the prince on how technology has affected the royal family, the media and why schoolchildren should be taught to code.