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Posted on September 2, 2016 by staff

“Huge discrepancy” in tech teaching experience failing kids

"Huge discrepancy" in tech teaching experience failing kids

Liz Smart of Hive Manchester
BusinessCloud
Liz Smart of Hive Manchester

There is a “huge discrepancy” in the experience of teachers delivering tech education in the UK.

A BusinessCloud roundtable heard that pupils are not receiving the guidance and support they need to realise their aspirations.

Liz Smart is community coordinator at Hive Manchester, a body which seeks to teach young people tech skills in Greater Manchester using experts from the industry.

It holds code clubs and hackdays where they can learn and play while making apps, websites, robots and electronic circuits, among other things.

“I work mainly for two not-for-profits, with the same aims but different age groups – Code Club in primary schools and Hive in high school and colleges,” she said at the education discussion, held at The Landing at MediaCityUK.

“It offers extracurricular digital activities. Across schools there is a huge discrepancy between the experience of teachers.

“About 40 per cent of schools in Manchester have a code club. There are about 130 schools on the waiting list, waiting for a volunteer from the tech industry or a student.”

MediaCityUK, based in Salford Quays, has a University Technical College (UTC), a government-funded school that teaches 14- to 18-year-olds technical and scientific subjects.

Sharon Gardner, the UTC’s principal, explained what it offers students outside the traditional education model.

Sharon Gardner, UTC MediaCityUK

Sharon Gardner, principal, UTC MediaCityUK

“We focus on developing students’ creative and digital skills,” she said.

“Students want to explore different pathways – they can study radio, television and film, Level 2 and 3 BTECs, gaming, interactive media, graphics.

“But they have to find us – in mainstream education they aren’t getting the guidance or support they need to follow their aspirations.”

ARM engineers believe schoolchildren armed with micro:bits will “redefine what is impossible” after learning to code.