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DfE pulls the plug on its own Computing Expert Group

The Department for Education has pulled the funding for its own Computing Expert Group, after the group voiced its opposition to the proposed computing curriculum due to be introduced next year.

The steering committee, which is made up of around 30 teachers and teacher educators, had been set up by the DfE to produce resources to help train teaching staff to deliver the new computing curriculum next September.

The group had been critical of some aspects of the new programmes of study, which it said was too narrow, with an overemphasis on computer science at the expense of other skills offered in ICT. 

Bob Harrison, chair of the expert group, said he felt the decision was made because the group often took a position that went against the political view.

“I received a phone call from the DfE saying some people weren’t happy with what we have been saying and that they were pulling the funding with immediate effect,” Mr Harrison said.

“We had already scheduled a meeting to discuss assessment in the new curriculum, but the DfE’s withdrawal meant none of the costs would be covered.” 

The DfE would no longer cover subsistence, travel or any accommodation costs in a bid to close the group down, but Mr Harrison said the committee would continue its work despite the department pulling its support.

“Even on the day they pulled the plug members of the group were still uploading resources to help other teachers,” Mr Harrison said. “Under our new name, Not The DfE Computing Expert Group, will work even harder to try and ensure teachers are confident and capable of teaching computing despite the overemphasis on computer science.”

When the computing curriculum is introduced into schools next year, it will make England the first country in the world to mandate computer science and coding in the national curriculum for all children. 

Earlier this month, TES quoted Mr Harrison as saying that very few employers saw coding as high on their list of priorities for the future workforce.  

At the time of publishing the DfE was working on a response.      

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