Top of the computer class: James Leonard

The Google Education man is the third expert in our series discussing four years of the computing curriculum

James Leonard is Head of Education UK, Google Education

Almost four years since its implementation, do you feel like schools have adequate resources and skills to fully realise the computing curriculum?

The educational landscape is continually changing, with access to certain technology not always available to schools keen to develop their computing curriculum. Last year, a report from the Royal Society found that despite the good progress in recent years, only 11% of Key Stage 4 pupils take GCSE computer science. The majority of teachers are teaching an unfamiliar school subject without adequate support. Through our commitment to supporting schools, affordable tools such as Chromebooks can help teachers equip pupils with the necessary digital skills through devices in the classroom.

With the shifting digital landscape, do you feel any knowledge gaps are emerging that the curriculum does not fulfil?

CS education and computational thinking skills are key to the future, and at Google, we’re committed to supporting Raspberry Pi – and other organisations like them – to ensure teachers and young people have the skills they’ll need to succeed. In every field, businesses of all sizes are looking to hire people who understand computing, so we need more students to leave school confident in skills like coding, computational thinking, machine learning and cybersecurity.

How do you feel the UK’s computing curriculum measures up against other countries’ efforts to digitise their emerging workforce?

The UK has already led the way in preparing for this future by making computer science education a part of the school curriculum in 2014. But we know there is more to do to ensure young people in every community have access to world-class computer science education. The UK Government’s £100m investment for an additional 8,000 computer science teachers last autumn, supported by a new National Centre for Computing, is an encouraging step forward. It builds on the progress that’s been made since computing was added to the curriculum by helping to ensure teachers have the specialist training and support they need to educate the next generation of British computer scientists.

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