Monthly Archives: October 2013

Restarting Computing in UK Schools

A somewhat more down-to-earth post, this one; an overview of, and a case study in, the wonderful revolution in Computing and Computer Science currently taking place in British schools.  Adapted from a paper presented at the 4th World Conference on Learning, Teaching and Educational Leadership and published in the Elsevier ‘Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences’ journal.

The past few years have been challenging ones for Computing education in the UK.  After decades of national neglect, largely overlooked, from the county that invented Computer Science, there has been a sudden impetus to reintroduce computational problem-solving into the school curriculum.  Immediate obstacles include a generation of children with no CS background and a need for tens of thousands of new or retrained teachers.  The Computing At School (CAS) movement has been instrumental in this quantum transition from an IT to Computing syllabus, as have the British Computer Society (BCS), leading UK university CS departments and a number of major international technology companies.  This piece looks at the background to this position and the progress being made to address these challenges.  It describes, as an example of many, the work of the BCS-funded Glyndŵr University ‘Turing Project’ in introducing Welsh high-school students and staff to high-level programming and ‘computational thinking’.  The Turing Project uses an innovative combination of Lego NXT Mindstorm robots, Raspberry Pi computers and PicoBoard hardware together with the Robot C and Scratch programming platforms. Continue reading