Must children learn how to work in code?

16th March 2012 at 00:00

The pieces in TESpro about programming are welcome. Michael Shaw's argument about making our children less docile consumers of technology is so important ("Let's face it, we all should be coders now", 9 March).

The main article ("A basic approach to programming") talked of primary school activity and its feasibility.

In 1983, when head of my small village school, two parents, early into ICT, encouraged our work with those curious (now) Sinclair machines. The mother worked two mornings a week with a group of older children and included programming. They enjoyed it and it inspired my two teachers to press me into introducing more such work as the technology developed.

Then in 1998, as an Ofsted inspector, I inspected a three-class primary in rural North Yorkshire. The head had taught his children to use programming. Two boys, 8 and 10, from his class had been inspired to design and make a model fairground carousel that moved not by switching on the batteries we usually saw in such work but by pressing enter on a computer. Later we learned that his 9-11 mixed-age class were good enough with computers to design and carry out a survey of parental attitudes to having a school uniform. Needless to say, he scored highly for ICT.

A broad primary curriculum still addresses "basics" while early ICT better prepares children for the radically electronic world rushing towards them.

Mervyn Benford, Information officer, National Association for Small Schools.

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