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Still "much work to be done" on skills, says Livingstone

Teachers lack "relevant qualifications" for computer science

48 hours after Education Secretary Michael Gove signalled a dramatic shift in the teaching of computing in UK schools, Ian Livingstone, co-author of the report that persuaded the Government, has admitted there remains "much work to be done".

Responding to concerns that teaching standards were insufficient to support a switch from ICT to computer science this year, Livingstone told GamesIndustry.biz:

"We have to start from somewhere - there's a major task to develop skills in this area. Not enough ICT teachers currently have the relevant qualifications; however, the BCS [The Chartered Institute for IT] and Computing At School claim they have 1000 teachers in schools who are able to teach computer science today."

If we can show that computer science is rigorous enough then it could become an option alongside the other sciences.

Ian Livingstone

He added: "There needs to be a major push by industry and government to develop skills as part of continuing professional development as well as training a new generation of teachers to teach computer science."

Gove's speech marked a significant victory for the Next Gen Skills campaign, with the Government adopting the number one recommendation of the Livingstone-Hope report by pledging to put computer science on the National Curriculum.

But, noted Livingstone, his report had "20 recommendations for government, educators and industry," and he would continue to campaign for them.

"We have our work cut out," he acknowledged. "Solving the technical aspects of what makes an exciting, rigorous and industry relevant Computer Science GCSE is a real challenge. 

"Michael Gove made a really interesting reference to the new English Baccalaureate - if we can show that computer science, as developed by expert bodies, is rigorous enough then it could become an option alongside the other sciences.  That's a real prize for us."          

The Eidos executive also gave his take on what changed Gove's mind - with the Minister having been viewed for some time as a serious obstacle to the campaign's goals.    

"I think the Secretary of State finally understood that evidence and recommendations in Next Gen chimed with what other digital industries were saying," explained Livingstone. 

"Of course it took Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google, to highlight the problem. But that opened the door to DfE, where I had some brilliant meetings with Michael Gove's special advisors.

"The government's formal response to Next Gen was very encouraging culminating in Michael Gove's historic speech at BETT."

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Johnny Minkley

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Johnny Minkley is a veteran games writer and broadcaster, former editor of Eurogamer TV, VP of gaming charity SpecialEffect, and hopeless social media addict.

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