Train teachers for coding curriculum

After undertaking coding training, many teachers realised that the curriculum change was not as challenging as first thought, says Lauren Hyams

It’s been almost one year since the computing curriculum was introduced in primary and secondary schools. Have the past 12 months gone as expected? Were there any challenges you didn’t envisage?

It’s our mission at Code Club to make the opportunity to learn to code available to every child, whether that’s through after school clubs or teacher training sessions. Having taught over 30,000 children to code in the UK through Code Clubs, we have a lot of experience in successfully teaching programming to primary school children.

In the academic year since the computing curriculum was introduced, our teacher training programme has trained over 1000 teachers so that they feel confident and excited about delivering the new computing curriculum. We have recruited over 250 volunteers, computer science experts who really care about education. They help teachers understand the computer science they need to teach.

From your experience, what has the education sector learned over the last 12 months, and how has it changed?

The teachers we have trained have discovered that the computing curriculum has the potential to be a really fun and engaging lesson for their pupils – there are lots of options available for learning key programming skills through making games and animations, and learning key skills such as collaborative working and debugging. After undertaking our training, teachers told us that they found themselves better equipped and many realised that the curriculum change was not as challenging as first thought.

How have schools reacted to the change, have they been onboard with it? Do you think they’ve embraced the changes and coped well?

From our perspective, we think schools have reacted positively to the change, and have participated in many different CPD initiatives including our teacher training programme to make sure that every child has the opportunity to learn to code. Computational thinking provides children with key skills in problem solving, communication, collaboration and sharing, planning and designing. 

And what about the students, are they engaging with their new subject?

We’ve seen from our after-school Code Clubs running outside of the curriculum that children are extremely engaged in coding and programming. Many students are already confident in using our Scratch projects because they have used the program in their computing classes, and our volunteers who run clubs often report back to us how much children enjoy creating new things and experimenting using code.

Do teaching professionals now consider the skills the curriculum teaches are important to the future career prospects of children?

Many teachers now understand that computational thinking provides children with key skills in problem solving, communication, collaboration and sharing, planning and designing. Our aim is that teachers have the knowledge and confidence to inspire their pupils with the desire and ability to pursue digital making. These skills will be useful to children’s future hobbies, schooling or career.

From what we’ve seen over the past 12 months, what changes can we make going into the next academic year to ensure students get the most out of the new curriculum? What could we be doing better?

Ensuring that teachers have the confidence and resources for they need to effectively teach the computing curriculum is key. We are working with partners such as Google to offer free training sessions across the country for both current and trainee teachers, so that we can help to support them and give them confidence in their abilities to continue to tackle the curriculum, as well as inspiring their students to see that coding is a useful and exciting skill to have!

Lauren Hyams works for the not-for-profit organisation, Code Club, where she heads the teacher training programme, which recruits and trains computer science experts to provide training sessions and resources for primary teachers.