New computer programming in schools project reflects Royal Society concerns

15 September 2011

Response to announcement of Behind the Screen project by Science Minister David Willetts at the British Festival of Science.

Professor Steve Furber, Chair of the Royal Society's Computing in Schools project, said:

"I warmly welcome the Minister's recognition of the need to develop computational thinking in schools, which the Royal Society first highlighted back in 2010 with the start of a new project to investigate the deeply worrying state of computing and ICT in schools. This is, for example, the eighth successive year that we have seen declines in numbers of students taking Computing A Levels and similar declines have also been seen at GCSE level. At a time at which computing skills are becoming more and more vital to the UK economy, this is a situation that is causing great consternation not only throughout the academic community, but also within commerce and industry.

The Royal Society’s study has been investigating these declines and the reasons for them and is currently looking into the implications for the National Curriculum review and the supply of specialist teachers. Evidence so far certainly points to the importance of encouraging pupils not simply to be users of technology, but to be creators of it too. The Royal Society will be publishing a comprehensive report on our study in early 2012 and looks forward to discussing our findings and recommendations with the Department".