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New report calls for greater access to computer science teaching

13/11/2017 Joanna

More needs to be done to ensure that as many children as possible have access to computer science teaching, according to a new report from the Royal Society.

Analysis carried out by the UK's national academy of sciences has revealed that at present, 54 per cent of English schools do not offer the computer science GCSE, with 30 per cent of English GCSE pupils attending a school that does not offer this course - the equivalent of 175,000 pupils each year.

Take-up rates for these courses was also shown to be patchy in regional terms, with Bournemouth showing the highest uptake of the computer science GCSE with 23 per cent of all pupils. By contrast, Kensington and Chelsea (five per cent), Blackburn (five per cent) and the City of London area (four per cent) were cited as the worst-performing areas.

The report also offered evidence that more needs to be done to persuade girls to take an interest in the subject, as only one in five computer science GCSE students are female.

Part of the reason for this low uptake could be to do with a lack of confidence among teachers about their expertise in this field. Staff still feel most confident with elements of the curriculum inherited from previous ICT courses, with 44 per cent feeling happier delivering the earlier stages of the curriculum than the later parts.

The country is currently only 68 per cent of the way towards its recruitment target for entries into computing teacher training courses, lower than physics and classics, while a lack of teacher conversion courses for computing is also causing issues.

Professor Steve Furber of the Royal Society said: "The rate at which technology is transforming the workplace means that we live in a world where many primary schoolchildren will work in technology-based roles that do not yet exist, so it is essential that future generations can apply digital skills with confidence."

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