Member News | 09.09.2015
By Sonso Gonzalez
Gavin Patterson, Chief Executive of BT, today announced a major programme to improve levels of tech literacy among UK primary school children, as new research shows further action is needed to support the government’s flagship computing curriculum introduced last September.
BT will more than double its commitment to support teachers by expanding the Barefoot Computing programme beyond England to the whole of the UK during the September 2015 to July 2016 school year. This forms part of a long-term commitment by BT, unveiled in March, to help build a culture of tech literacy for the nation, reaching five million young people by 2020.
The new Barefoot Computing commitment will involve:
In a speech at BT Tower to leading figures in UK technology, education, policy, parenting and youth communities, Patterson warned that the next generation of children lack the tech knowledge and skills to ensure the UK remains a leading player in the future global economy:
“The UK's future as a technology leader hinges on young people getting the skills, support and training they need to create successful careers in science, engineering and IT. There won't only be more demand for specialist tech skills; many jobs, in different sectors, will require some level of tech literacy.
“If we're to have a dynamic economy, we need a society where people understand the basics behind how tech works, and have the knowledge to create and develop it, not just consume it. A generation of young people who are tech literate is fundamental. Bringing computing into primary school classrooms was a landmark step, but we need to do more to enable teachers to teach it.”
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “I am delighted at this latest commitment from BT to help support teachers deliver our world-class computing curriculum. The decision to replace ICT in schools with high quality computer science is key to preparing pupils for life in a modern economy.
“We have spent more than £4.5 million over the past three years to help computing teachers prepare young people for the rapidly-changing jobs market and BT’s commitment can only help us progress further.”
Ninety senior leaders, with a stake in addressing the UK’s tech literacy challenge, took part in a special event to crowdsource solutions, including Mumsnet CEO Justine Roberts, iRights founder Baroness Beeban Kidron, tech entrepreneur Ian Livingstone, and senior representatives from government and education.
The new commitments from BT come on the back of new research into the attitudes and behaviour of children, teachers and parents towards the new curriculum and the role of technology at school and home.
The research found:
Commenting on why BT wants to improve UK tech literacy, Gavin Patterson added:
“Our purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. These days, life and work is built around connectivity. It isn’t just the technology that matters, it’s what everyone can do with it. And the real opportunity for the future is to create things that nobody has even thought of yet. We need people who understand how technology works – who are tech literate – if we’re to make this a reality.”
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