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'Surprising drop' in students taking computing

28/08/2012 Kelly
There has been a "surprising drop" in the number of students taking IT and computing, according to the Good Schools Guide.

Janette Wallis, senior editor of the site, which aims to provide parents with information on all schools across the country, said that part of the reason could be because more students view computing as something they can learn themselves.

She said: "At a time when young people are concerned about employment you would expect to see greater numbers studying something like computing, which is much more work-orientated rather than some other subjects."

The recent publication of GCSE results revealed an increased uptake this year in some subjects such as Mandarin, even among non-foreign students, indicating that children are likely picking languages that they think could do them well when it comes to forging a career.

However, Ms Wallis suggested that computing and coding are things that many younger children are learning on their own to some degree.

Her comments follow those of technology expert Alasdair Blackwell, who claimed earlier this month that all children should be taught how to code.

Speaking on a Guardian video podcast, the chief technology officer of education firm Decoded said that coding should be embedded in the curriculum as early as primary school, when play can be used to establish the basic principles of concepts such as logic.

"Much like you teach writing at the age of about six, and then it's assumed in every other subject that you have to be able to write, so too should we teach programming and then rather than continuously teaching it... it should be assumed, it should be in every topic," he said.

The technology industry has been looking at ways to improve the number of students leaving education with a solid grasp of subjects such as computing and engineering to overcome what is perceived as a growing skills shortage.

One effort made to this end has been the launch of the Raspberry Pi, a cheap computer circuit board the size of a credit card that offers schools an affordable way to teach students about how the insides of a device work.

Posted by Harriet McGowenADNFCR-2164-ID-801437407-ADNFCR
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