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How does education need to change to meet the needs of the future?

As a parent, you want the best education available for your children, and in one sense, the best education means a system that keeps up to date with how the economy is evolving.

University of East London Docklands campus

Economic foundations across the world have shifted dramatically in the past 30 years and this is especially true in the UK, with traditional manufacturing having declined and the new economy of computing and information technology blossoming. If the UK is to prosper in this new, digital age then it needs an educated workforce, equipped with the right sets of skills.

The good news is that the UK government recognises that information technology and computing need to form a core part of the education system for our children. You can see from the published figures the impact of curriculum reform to include <
information technology education. The government has been keen to promote computer science as a subject for those aged 11 and upwards. As a result, the number of students taking computer science at GCSE level totalled more than 35,000 in 2015, a huge jump from the figure of just 4,253 in 2013.

The UK government is keen to embrace private sector support for computer and IT education. For example, it has lent support to the “Founders of the Future” programme, an initiative launched by internet entrepreneur and founder Brent Hoberman to identify and nurture future technology leaders, before they have started their own businesses. Support for initiatives like this is in part recognition by government that private-sector input into technology education is critical, given that businesses see at first hand advancements in technology and the shifting sands of the economy.

Of course, education is only as effective as the resources that back it up, and technology in the classroom needs to be prioritized. This means classrooms that are equipped with tablets and other essential pieces of technological kit. However, it also means questioning existing teaching models and promoting alternatives that emphasize key skills for the digital graduates of tomorrow, including creativity and innovation. For example, the idea of a “flipped” classroom, in which the teacher acts more as a facilitator than instructor and many classes are delivered online, is gaining traction in the US and has started to cross the Atlantic.

Individual schools are seizing the initiative and incorporating technology education into their curriculums. Institutions such as Kingsdale Foundation School have invested in state-of-the-art computer facilities for the benefit of students. At Kingsdale Foundation School, the essentials of ICT are taught from Key Stage 3, and as the parent of a child at the school, you can be sure that key concepts such as algorithms are not overlooked. The school takes a holistic approach to information technology education, showing how it can be applied to other areas, from science and engineering to art and mathematics. Kingsdale Foundation School is also introducing the Computing A-Level.

You want your children to have the best future they can, so it is good to know that the education system in the UK is evolving in line with that future – one that is digital and technology-centred.