Researchers at the University of Brad-ford are teaming up with Keighley company Webanywhere to help teachers prepare for a major shake-up of the way young people learn about computers.
The university’s electrical engineering and computer science school has launched a survey about proposed changes to the computer science curriculum to be taught in schools across the country starting this year.
Research will help shape how teachers are trained in the run-up to teaching the increasingly important subject.
Under the shake-up of the curriculum, children as young as five will be taught computer programming and how to stay safe online.
In conjunction with Webanywhere – the e-learning company based at the Aire Valley Business Centre in Lawkholme Lane – university researchers will ask teachers if they need help in adjusting to the new curriculum and what form that help should take.
Education Secretary Michael Gove announced last year that the subject ICT (Information and Computer Technology) will be called ‘computing’ from September this year. From that date, children from the age of five will be taught to create computer content, programming and ‘computational thinking’. Mr Gove has described the current ICT curriculum as “dated and unchallenging”.
They will learn how to be safe on the Internet, avoiding online predators, and how to keep their personal information safe.
Plans have met with a mixed response so far. A government consultation on the proposals raised fears primary school teachers would be unequipped to teach it, and there would need to be considerable training to bring teachers up to speed.
The university hopes the research will help shape how the government supports teachers in the months leading up to the rollout of the new syllabus, and to prepare new teachers and update them once it starts.
The research is being sponsored by the Yorkshire Innovation Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, as well as the university. The research team includes Professor Daniel Neagu, Dr Paul Trundle, and interns Rafiullah Hamedy and Lisa Eyre.
Prof Neagu said: “We’re aiming to find out how the right training can be provided to teachers. We want to come up with an academic model that targets teachers and students.”
He said that with the numbers of jobs now requiring computer skills, it was important as many people as possible were trained to teach the subject.
“The UK has to do what is happening in Europe and the US,” he said.