QuickStart Computing aims to help teachers master new technology

A recent poll revealed that two out of three teachers are concerned that their pupils have a better understanding of computing than they do

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We've all been brought up to believe that 'teacher knows best', but that no longer applies in some lessons, it seems.

A recent poll of 300 teaching staff has revealed that two out of three are concerned that their pupils have a better understanding of computing than they do.

In addition, a separate poll of 2,000 nine- to 16-year-olds revealed that almost half (47 per cent) believed their teachers needed more training to master new technology, while 41 per cent admitted they regularly helped their teachers understand how to use computers.

The figures follow the introduction of the new computing curriculum last term which has put the emphasis on coding and creating websites rather than just on how to operate the technology.

The student poll was carried out by Computing At School – a group of teachers who devised the new curriculum – and financed by Microsoft. According to Simon Peyton Jones, a computer scientist and the group's chairman, the changes to the curriculum are "a major step forward", but he added that their introduction has been "very patchy". "I would say the majority of teachers [in the UK] are ill-prepared," he said.

The new curriculum has achieved one thing, though – top performing countries such as South Korea and Japan are beating a path to the UK's door to see if they can learn from the way our schools are now tackling computer science.

But just to ensure that the South Koreans and Japanese don't walk off with all the knowledge, a toolkit – QuickStart Computing, aimed at helping to train teachers – has been devised, and is on show at the Bett exhibition of new technology in education being held this week at Excel London.

Peyton Jones said that teachers less at ease with the technology than their pupils shouldn't be disheartened.

"I would hope that they would behave like music teachers. If they are faced with a pupil who plays the violin better than they do, they don't think 'what an awful teacher I am'. They rejoice in the ability of their pupil and put them in the front of the class."

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