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UKHotViews©

 

Wednesday 06 December 2017

How do you teach Computing without computers?

Bury schoolHow do you teach Computing without computers? That was the desperate plea from one of my teacher friends on Facebook last week as she set about planning computing lessons for her small rural primary school.

Laura teaches at Bury Church of England Primary in West Sussex, where she has been given the role of ‘computing lead’ even though she’s never had any official training in the topic. Bury has just 42 children on its roll and teaches them in three classes of mixed year groups, the largest being the year 5/6 class of 19 children. Across the school they have five working laptops, all of which are five or more years old, plus three iPads (for the teachers’ use, not the children) and one interactive whiteboard.

Now Laura is an innovative, enthusiastic teacher but even she is struggling to see how she can effectively teach coding and computing - and most importantly engage the children so that they are enthused to learn vital digital skills - with only five working laptops. Amongst the more helpful suggestions that she received on Facebook were coding with graph paper and cutting a yoga mat into squares to make a floor grid to teach some of the skills.

Of course, without sufficient working computers, it’s not just the children’s coding skills that will suffer. If they had laptops or tablets they’d use them for general class use too – typing, numeracy, creating presentations and even creating films to improve literacy.

Unfortunately, I’m sure Laura is not the only teacher in UK schools facing this near impossible challenge. As our education market trends analysis makes clear (see UK Public Sector SITS Market Size & Forecasts 2017/8), funding for UK schools is incredibly tight – indeed, education is the worst performing area of the UK public sector software and IT services market and was the only sub-sector to decline last year. At Bury primary school, they are having to cut costs on everything from pencils to exercise books and don’t have any funding available for computers. Other local primary schools have asked the parents for donations to help them purchase IT equipment but with only 33 families in the school, Bury’s options are limited there too.

If the UK is serious about improving productivity and becoming a ‘tech nation’ then we need our young people to have the right digital skills. The evidence suggests that means inspiring children to embrace tech at primary school age, but how do you do that without computers?

If any of our UKHotViews readers have suggestions for organisations that may be able to help Laura and others like her teaching computing in UK schools, please do let us know. You can email me at tsargeant@techmarketview.com.  

Posted by Tola Sargeant at '08:59' - Tagged: education   skills  

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