Digital literacy and computational thinking are increasingly becoming core life skills, and the earlier these are taught to children, the better, says Micro:bit Educational Foundation. Combined with a long-term digital skills crisis – the UK is losing out on £63bn in GDP per year due to the digital skills gap – teachers are facing mounting pressure to teach computing skills more, and to even younger children.
New research from education non-profit the Micro:bit Educational Foundation has surveyed UK primary teachers to understand better their experience, challenges and concerns around teaching digital skills.
Key findings from the research include:
- While almost all have experience teaching computing, only 14% of surveyed teachers have a qualification or background in computing.
- Of those responsible for IT in their schools, over 60% have no formal training in the subject.
- Around a quarter of primary teachers cite lack of teacher knowledge and technical skills as a barrier to teaching digital skills, while a further three in five blame lack of resources.
Furthermore, BBC micro:bit is aimed at children aged 8-14 (years 4-9 approx), yet the majority of devices are used in secondary schools.
This first wave of research is part of a three-part programme that aims to understand the challenges facing primary school teachers and develop appropriate supports for them to integrate teaching computer skills into their planning and delivery of lessons. As part of the initiative, the Foundation is also working with Nominet and the Scottish Government to deliver 57k BBC coding devices to primary schools across the UK.
The research also aims to identify the success of this programme over three years and to adjust if necessary to increase impact.