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Microsoft launches ˜first class computing

Microsoft unveils new suite of materials aimed specifically at primary school teachers getting to grips with the new computing curriculum

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | January 20, 2014 | Business

Microsoft has unveiled a brand new suite of materials aimed specifically at primary school teachers who, from September, will be teaching computing to primary school children for the first time.

Launched in partnership with educational publisher Rising Stars, the free Switched On Computing resource has been developed as part of Microsoft’s wider effort to ensure primary school teachers – who have never taught this kind of computer science before – have the skills, confidence and tools to deliver the new curriculum within the next nine months.

Because a grounding in computational thinking is so critical for today’s children, Microsoft is pledging to help secure the success of the new primary school curriculum by helping 160,000 non-specialist primary school teachers across the UK. The launch of the new materials marks the start of a programme building towards September, which will include a series of regional teacher training roadshows to be launched in the coming months.

“We welcomed the news of the new computing curriculum alongside others in the industry because it is absolutely critical for the future success of our young people. The challenge now is to ensure that primary teachers are equipped to deliver it by September,” said Steve Beswick, senior director of education, Microsoft UK.

He added: “That’s why we are launching our ‘First Class Computing’ programme now which through new materials, teacher training, and our on-going work with the education community, can help a new generation of teachers inspire young people. 

The programme is part of Microsoft’s long term ambition to ensure that every school leaver in the UK is computationally literate and that 80% of all jobs requiring computer science knowledge are able to be filled by a UK graduate by 2025.

The Switched On Computing materials have been written by teachers and trialled by both teachers and children to ensure they are accessible by all and effective in developing computer science skills in children as young as five. 

They are divided into a separate unit for each year group from Year one to six and aim to help encourage logical thinking and problem-solving skills. They include activities which will benefit children’s learning beyond the classroom, simultaneously inspiring teachers with ways to get the best from their classes under the new curriculum.

“The arrival of the new national curriculum brings fresh challenges for primary schools, particularly in the area of Computer Science,” commented Andrea Carr, managing director, Rising Stars.

“We think these free resources are exactly what teachers need to get started with computing. The projects are creative, easy to run and include plenty of hand- holding for teachers.

This week the company is also launching its annual Kodu Kup competition, which encourages kids to code.  

Kodu is a free visual programming language and allows children as young as seven to build games. 

Ideal for students between seven – 14 years, Kodu offers a suite of free online resources, including the Kodu Game Lab which provides lesson plans, videos and built-in tutorials.Last year’s winners were three girls from Afon Taf High School in South Wales, who designed a game called “The Dark Side of Mars”. 

Read Switched On Computing here

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