United Kingdom’s National Curriculum Puts Strong Focus on Technology

Wired digs into the details of the United Kingdom’s newly released national curriculum and finds that Britain’s schools will place much more emphasis on topics relevant to the world as it is today, including computer programing, climate change and 3D modeling. Katie Collins explains that curriculum pays due to the increasing importance of creating a technologically-savvy population by dumping courses like word processing and replacing them with coding algorithm analysis.

That is not the only way that the curriculum attempts to catch up to technology. From the very first grades, students will receive lessons on the importance of privacy in the digital age.

All this adds up to students who can confidently navigate the pitfalls of social media and the internet and at the same learn skills that would allow them to master two programming languages by Key Stage 3. They will also be proficient in binary arithmetic and applying those skills to solve problems.

“As a parent this is exactly the kind of thing I want my children to be learning. And as Prime Minister I know this revolution in education is critical for Britain’s prosperity in the decades to come,” said David Cameron in a statement following the publication of the curriculum.

The proposed syllabus for design and technology has also undergone a significant overhaul, after responses to the original draft deemed it “not sufficiently aspirational”,according to a statement outlining the changes. From age seven, the new curriculum says, children should be taught computer-aided design, and from 11 they will learn 3D and mathematical modeling, as well as using computer-aided manufacturing tools and including programmable components in design.

According to Collins, the curriculum makes no mention of technology such as 3D printing, but as was previously written in the Guardian, this new and very promising development is certainly on the mind of those who played a role in the curriculum’s development. A Whitehall source is quoted as saying that it is only a matter of time until 3D printers are available in all schools for students to use. If true, combined with new focus on learning computer programming, they could prepare the students for the way companies will run their manufacturing facilities in the future.

It’s good to see the UK government overhauling the education system at the primary and secondary school level to include more focus on design, technology and computing across the board. While London, and more widely, the UK has become well known for its prowess in nurturing the fresh green shoots of tech entrepreneurship, there is also a shortfall in the number of appropriately skilled applicants for technical positions, leading to a highly competitive recruitment pool, that, ultimately, ‘the little guy’ often struggles to get the best of.

Even children’s history lessons can’t escape the tech touch, as they will now be expected to be able to draw comparisons between significant figures in history, which now includes Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web.