Recoding education: Why the time for change is now

As teachers navigate post-pandemic learning, there has never been a better time to focus on educating children in the world of coding, comments senior vice president of BYJU’s FutureSchool Sajid Shariff

As the world has changed in the last 18 months, so too have the ways in which children learn. When the majority of schools in the UK were forced to close their doors during lockdowns, many children had to rely on a combination of learning remotely from home and being home schooled by their parents and caregivers. Although this shift in learning certainly didn’t come without its difficulties, it did demonstrate the incredible agility of the education sector.

With restrictions lifted and schools now reopened, the world we are operating in is no longer the same. This provides a unique opportunity to evolve the curriculum we are teaching children – both in the ways they are taught and the skills they are learning.

The pandemic also accelerated demand for digital skills in the job market, reinforcing the need to teach students these supplemental skills that are now needed to succeed beyond the classroom. To ensure children have access to a variety of opportunities, we must reshape education, focus more on digital skills like coding, and empower the next generation to succeed in the increasingly connected world.

A learning shift

Many parents and carers unexpectedly found themselves in a teaching position, having to steer their children’s education – something many didn’t feel equipped for, often having to juggle an existing job and various other duties. Figures released by ONS over the lockdown period showed the strain this was having, with over one in four parents (28%) reporting that teaching their children at home was having a negative effect on their own wellbeing.

Now, with schools having reopened and restrictions at ease, parents and caregivers find themselves in a precarious position, worried about how much education their children have missed out on and its potential long-term effects on their children’s future. Students in the UK and Ireland are estimated to have missed out on a third of learning time during lockdown, according to researchers from University of Exeter and LSE.

As schools work towards catching students up on the content they have missed, many parents are seeking to supplement their children’s education with courses outside the classroom. It’s critical that students from a young age are equipped with digital skills to set them up for success in their future careers.

Paving the way with new skills

The world of work has also experienced significant change over the last 18 months. Businesses are embracing technological innovation like never before in order to become more versatile in meeting customer and employee needs. This has created a surge in demand for new talent proficient in digital skills, with many employers prioritising such skill sets in their hiring process. They have become so important that 76% of employers have reported that they believe lack of digital skills will have a significant impact on their profitability.

However, despite this need, a persistent digital skills gap remains in the UK. Earlier this year, the Learning and Work Institute reported that the number of young people taking IT at GCSE level has dropped by as much as 40%. It is clear that more needs to be done to shape students’ current curriculum to emphasise the importance of STEM and address this skills gap.

As a country with a rapidly growing tech sector, this skills gap has the potential to have far reaching negative effects for the UK. Currently, the gross added value tech is adding to the UK’s economy has grown on average by 7% for the past 5 years, according to the latest Tech Nation report.

For this growth to continue, a stream of future talent needs to be nurtured to fill tech positions and spur innovation. Yet, this could fail to be achieved if the education sector does not take this opportunity to implement changes in what children learn at school.

Embedding tech into learning

To properly prepare children for the changing world of work they will eventually be entering, integrating STEM subjects and empowering children with digital skills from an early age is crucial. Currently in many schools, by the time it gets to GCSE and A-levels these subjects become an optional subject to specialise in, many children may not be exposed to these important skills at all in their time in school.

Now parents are seeking out educational resources and courses beyond the classroom to engage their children and further their learning. Companies like BYJU’S FutureSchool utilise live activity-based coding and maths courses for children aged 6-18. This way, children can learn new concepts, build a strong foundation of digital skills and see the real-world applications of what they’re learning by creating apps and games.

Educating students from an early age in coding and various other tech-focused areas – especially girls – can spark their ambition and inspire them to be our next generation of engineers and programmers. Not only does this lay the foundation by equipping them with skills they will need to pursue a career in STEM, studies also show skills such as coding have highly positive effects on a child’s development.

Coding, for example, can help to develop children’s analytical and problem-solving skills, in addition to providing a forum for children to channel their creative expression. Children may also find the classes rewarding over time as they are able to link their skills to things produced in everyday life like AI (artificial intelligence) or even low-code powered apps and tools.

Equipped for the future

Overall, the way the pandemic has changed our world cannot be ignored and must be reflected in how and what children are learning. Digital skills such as coding are increasingly becoming essential for modern-day professionals as many roles evolve to become more tech-focused. Therefore, it is important that children are exposed to such skills at an early age. Not only will it make them assets in the workplace, it can also aid their development as they continue to make their way through formal education and provide an outlet for creative expression.

You might also like: How coding helps children become creative problem solvers

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