£3million boost for Digital Literacy and Computer Science in Wales

Over 150 teachers from across Wales gathered at a conference at Swansea University last week (June 22nd) when Leighton Andrews AM, Minister for Education and Skills announced a £3million investment over the next three years to support a range of measures to improve computer science, digital literacy and ICT in schools and colleges across Wales.

In his speech, the Minister said that ‘Computing was a high priority for growth in Wales.  The future supply and demand for science, technology and mathematics is essential if Wales is to compete in the global economy. 

It is therefore vitally important that every child in Wales has the opportunity to study computer science between the ages of 11-16.’

He added, ‘It is essential that we provide our learners with plenty of opportunities to engage with emerging technologies to ensure that they are well placed to take advantage of new jobs.’

The Minister highlighted the good work already being done across Wales in this key STEM discipline and stressed the importance of the provision for continuing professional development for teachers. 

He said, ‘The Welsh Government will work closely with delivery partners such as Computing at School and Technocamps to ensure that this CPD programme is well coordinated and has a significant impact on learner outcomes on digital literacy, ICT and computer science.’

The second annual conference, which was hosted by Computing at School (CAS) Wales and Technocamps, provided a platform for teachers, educators, examination boards, academics and policymakers to discuss the important issues surrounding computer science education in Wales.

Professor Faron Moller, Director of Technocamps, said, ‘This funding provides Wales with a great opportunity to leap ahead of other parts of the UK in its challenge to meet the demands of the digital economy.  Technocamps is already at the core of education provision in this field and will continue to lead the way in engaging schools and colleges across Wales in computer science.

‘Rather than users of technology, we want the young people we work with to imagine themselves as the creators of the next Facebook or next generation smartphone, or better yet something unimaginable that is going to change the world.

‘Teachers and educators will play a key part in making this happen and this is why we are gearing ourselves up to deliver a programme with CAS that will ensure that they are well equipped to create the new generation of technologists.’

CAS/Technocamps conference group

The conference featured other keynote speakers, including Professor Simon Peyton Jones, Microsoft Research Cambridge and Chair of CAS and Maggie Philbin, Broadcaster and CEO of TeenTech.

The day also provided practical workshop sessions for teachers in a range of computer science topics, including Artificial Intelligence, Algorithmic Problem Solving, Interactive Fiction, Microsoft Kodu, Greenfoot and Computational Modelling.  It also held breakout sessions for discussing wider policy and curriculum issues.

Dr Tom Crick, Chair of CAS Wales, and Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at Cardiff Metropolitan University, added:

‘This is a clear declaration by the Welsh Government of the importance of computer science education. Through this investment in teachers and infrastructure, alongside proposed changes to the curriculum and qualifications, Wales will be well placed to enthuse, engage and develop the next generation of innovators and technologists. This reinforces the wider importance of STEM education, as highlighted in the recently published Science for Wales strategy, as a key enabler for economic renewal through science and innovation.

CAS are looking forward to working with Technocamps and other key partners to drive forward the computer science agenda and support teachers and schools across Wales.’

Visit: www.technocamps.com or www.itwales.com for more information.