Year of Code gets a bashing – so now what?

Forget the year of the horse, the government have announced that 2014 is the Year of Code, but this latest initiative has come under much criticism. Unsurprisingly, this has been well-documented and blogged about so I’ll summarise the key issues here before moving on to what I believe is the more important point for teachers. So here goes, what’s wrong with the the Year of Code:

  • Budget: £500k isn’t nearly enough to train up all UK teachers to the level that is needed
  • Timescale: too little too late. More time is needed to properly prepare teachers.
  • The Executive Director, Lottie Dexter, can’t code or talk about it confidently, which lead to a rather awkward appearance on Newsnight. Whether or not a person in this position needs to be able to code themselves still remains a point of discussion.
  • The board of advisors is lacking in real techies and even more lacking in anyone from the world of education.
  • Some of those who were advisors and had some useful experience to draw upon seemingly didn’t get much of an opportunity to advise.

Ok, so the Year of Code may not be (as yet anyway) as useful or effective as it could have been, but continuing to rant about the ‘should have beens’ isn’t a useful exercise to me. The important point for us as educators, who will be teaching coding from September if not before, is what now? What can we do to get ourselves prepared? How will we teach computing effectively? Some thoughts:

  • Teach ourselves. There are free courses out there, one being the UEA Teaching Computing course as pointed out to me by @SheliBB.
  • Organise ourselves more effectively at a cluster level. I got together with a fellow ICT Coordinator at one of our cluster schools to create a joint action plan for how we are going to roll out computing back in November 2013.
  • Look to help from industry: Microsoft funded Switched On Computing and sent it to all UK primary schools to help them make a start – disclaimer: yes, I wrote it. Rising Stars are helping deliver regional training days on the new programme of study. Google and Raspberry Pi joined forces to deliver 15,000 of the micro-computers into schools. Many in the industry are putting some money where their mouths are and who knows if there’s more to come?
  • Set up a Code Club and use their materials and resources to help make a start.
  • Join Computing at School, an organisation that I predict will play an increasingly important role in all this through their useful documents, master teachers, hubs and training events.
  • Look for advice from teachers who can help lead the way.

So, whether or not Year of Code turns out to be all it is cracked up to be, what are you doing to help yourself prepare to teach computing? Have you discovered some resources out there? If there was ever a time to share and make 2014 our Year of  Learning How To Teach Code, then this is it so please add ideas to the comments below and I’ll attempt to collate them somehow into something useful.

Brogramming with Tom by ryanoshea
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