16 January 2012
Educational charity helps shape future of Computing in schools
The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) will be at the heart of developments in the way children learn about Computing in schools thanks to collaborations with two key players in the Government’s plans to reshape the curriculum.
NFER with Futurelab has lent its backing to a £2m programme to research and fund the use of innovative technology projects in education, which was announced by Education Secretary Michael Gove in a speech at last week’s BETT conference. The work, led by NESTA, will explore different ways in which learners can benefit most from technology both inside and outside the classroom. The programme will run initially for two years.
This announcement coincides with the publication of the Royal Society’s Shut down or restart? report into Computing in schools, which features NFER research. As part of the project - which looked at the current status of Computing education in UK schools – NFER was commissioned to compare aspects of UK provision with the ICT school curricula of Singapore, Japan, Finland, Canada (Ontario) and the USA (Massachusetts).
Key findings from the NFER survey include:
- In some educational systems, the subject areas of ICT and Computing are not represented in the curriculum. In some they are optional and in others mandatory.
- The use of ICT is included in the curriculum more commonly than the technical aspects of Computing, such as programming.
- The age at which the teaching of ICT is expected by the curriculum varies, from introduction at or before age 6 in Ontario and Massachusetts to first introduction at the age of 12 in Singapore and 14 in Italy. There is evidence, however, that many students use ICT earlier than the curriculum implies.
- The introduction of more technical Computing skills occurs later, typically from the ages of 12-14 upwards.
- Only the older students are exposed to the technicalities of networking and systems management, and then not in all countries/regions.
- Curriculum design varies. Most courses are linear, while Ontario offers a menu of Computing courses at the higher levels, from which students can select courses tailored to their different interests and aspirations.
The full NFER report can be downloaded here: /publications/cis101.
Linda Sturman, a Research Manager in the Centre for International Comparisons, NFER, said: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to be part of this important project by the Royal Society. Our international survey of Computing contributes to the report some thought-provoking insights into how we might shape Computing education in the UK.”
For more information contact: Sarah Fleming, Media & Communications Executive at NFER on 01753 637155/ firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jane Parrack, Marketing Communications Manager at NFER on 01753 637245 / email@example.com
NOTE TO EDITORS:
NFER is the UK’s leading independent education and children’s services research and assessment organisation making a difference for learners of all ages through world-class research. An independent not-for-profit organisation (registered charity number 313392), it provides evidence for a range of organisations from national governments and local authorities to schools, charities and private sector companies to improve education and the life chances of learners in the UK and beyond. NFER’s team of educational research experts is uniquely placed, working with a wide range of partners and associates, to produce authoritative evidence to support change. NFER identifies and tackles the important research questions of the future and uses its expertise to develop new products and services to make it easy for others, such as schools and teachers, to gather and use evidence to help them improve education, children’s services and classroom learning.
Whether providing research evidence for policy makers or to help improve practice in the classroom, NFER is passionate about making sure that learners are the ultimate beneficiaries of all its work. Established in 1946, it employs 150 people at its office in Slough, Swansea and York.
Futurelab is an independent, not-for-profit organisation (registered charity number 1113051), dedicated to driving up standards and transforming teaching and learning, making it more relevant and engaging to 21st century learners through the use of innovative technology and practice. Its world-class range of products and services include educational research, events, school development and resources. The independent authority on enabling technologies in teaching and learning, Futurelab’s cutting-edge research has been influencing policy and practice for over 10 years. Positioned firmly at the forefront of educational innovation, Futurelab proactively seeks gaps in current educational knowledge, to produce impactful research and resources that focus on improving results.
Futurelab was set up in 2001 as part of NESTA, with start-up funding from the Department for Education and Skills. In April 2006 Futurelab spun out of NESTA to become an independent charity.
NESTA is the UK’s foremost independent expert on how innovation can solve some of the country’s major economic and social challenges. Its work is enabled by an endowment, funded by the National Lottery, and it operates at no cost to the taxpayer. NESTA is a world leader in its field and carries out its work through a blend of experimental programmes, analytical research and investment in earlystage companies.
About the Royal Society
The Royal Society is a Fellowship of the world’s most eminent scientists and is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. It aims to expand the frontiers of knowledge by championing the development and use of science, mathematics, engineering and medicine for the benefit of humanity and the good of the planet. One of the Royal Society’s goals is to invigorate science and mathematics education, to restore the interest of young people in science and mathematics, so that people’s lives are enriched and the needs of the economy are met.