In the academic year 2014/15, the national curriculum introduced a new subject, computing taking the place of ICT. With these changes come challenges for the education department and schools up and down the country. Which are outlined in the study Shut down or restart? The way forward for computing in UK schools by the Royal Society. The study highlights that the previous ICT national curriculum could be widely interpreted, allowing schools to reduce it to the lowest level making it easier for non-specialised teachers to teach. Thus supporting further their claim that the majority of teachers lack the skills to teach beyond basic digital literacy (Royalsociety.org, 2012). The Digital skills Crisis report supports these claims, showing a small percentage of current ICT teachers have relevant qualifications to teach the subject, the Government has only been able to fill 70% of the positions available. (Publications.parliament.uk, 2016).
Some studies state that school infrastructure is inhibiting effective learning, with the unwillingness of the technical staff to install software they feel could compromise the security of the network. Along with an alleged lack of support and understanding from the management of the intricacies of teaching Computing (Sentance and Csizmadia, 2016). In addition to this the report from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. Titled Digital Skills Crisis, also reports a lack of resources and ineffective equipment in schools is also holding back the delivery of computing, thus paired with the shortage of skills needed to teach the subject which has seen the number of students on the decline since 2007 (Publications.parliament.uk, 2016). A report from the company Silensec states, that if the cybersecurity skills gap is going to be filled by education, then it must be delivered in a formal manner (Addressing the Cyber Security Skills Gap, 2017), which does seem to be taking shape through the changes to the curriculum. However, these changes alone will not have the desired impact while resources and educational infrastructure are holding back effective teaching. (Royalsociety.org, 2012)
So in conclusion of The Royal Society and The digital Skills Crisis reports, which were undertaken four years apart record similar issues, whereby the technical resources are deemed inadequate and ascertains that there are not enough teachers with the skills to teach a comprehensive computer science curriculum.
1.5.2 Teachers Perspective, Engagement and Perception
In the report Computing in the curriculum: Challenges and strategies from a teacher’s perspective it identifies through qualitative research that teachers were concerned about the depth of their subject knowledge in computer science which was mentioned ninety-seven times in the study. With one teacher stating “‘…the sheer time involved in learning the language, skills. I do self CPD daily, and have given easily 100+ hrs of my own time to building my own skill set up…”‘ (Sentance and Csizmadia, 2016) Technical problems and lack of resources are also challenges that were highlighted by many teachers. It seems that these changes were made to the curriculum with little consideration of how schools and teachers were equipped to deal with them. Most primary school teachers are generalists, who deliver all subjects to one class. Thus making the upskill of teachers more prevalent than just the ICT department (Brown et al., 2014).
1.5.3 Statistical Data
An article by Rebecca Hill for the website theregister.co.uk claims that interest in GCSE computing has fallen despite the resurge in 2014. In the article she claims that 67,800 students were to sit the exam in 2017, this was an increase of 6,500 from 2016. An insignificant increase compared to the year 2014 which saw an increase of 15,800 and 32,780 in 2015. (Hill. 2017) An article by Adam Shepherd claims The British Computer Society has warned of a potential drop in computer science students up to 50% by the year 2020 claiming that experts are “blaming the short fall on a lack of Government investment in teacher training”(Shepherd, 2017)