Computer coding mandatory in British primary schools

Millions of children in England will begin a “tough” new national curriculum when they return to school this week.
Five-year-olds will learn fractions and computer coding.
The curriculum is being implemented for most year groups simultaneously.
Teachers’ leaders say the timetable is unrealistic, but the Department for Education said its aim was to prepare children for “life in modern Britain”.
A spokesman said the government wanted “all children to learn the core knowledge in key subjects – the ones universities and employers value the most”.
‘Keep pace’
All local authority primary and secondary schools have to start teaching the new national curriculum from the start of term.
It is not compulsory for academies – which are now a majority of secondary schools.
The rewritten national curriculum, described by the prime minister as “rigorous, engaging and tough”, sets out the framework for what children should be taught between the ages of five and 14.
Former education secretary Michael Gove has said changes were necessary for England to keep pace with the most successful education systems in the world.
The new-look curriculum puts a stronger emphasis on skills such as “essay writing, problem-solving, mathematical modelling and computer programming”.
In primary schools where the most significant changes are in maths, English and computing, pupils going into Years 2 and 6 this year will continue with the old curriculum in English, maths and science, so they can sit national tests at the end of the year.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said teachers had worked hard to prepare for the new curriculum over the past year.
He said he was confident they would cope with its implementation but he warned there could be some difficulties with maths, where more advanced topics are to be taught at a younger age.
‘A lot of cramming’
“One of the mistakes in the implementation of the curriculum is that it’s all being implemented at once,” he said.
“In maths you need to learn the early concepts before you learn the later concepts, so there is a problem that there will be children who have not learned the earlier concepts before being expected to learn the more demanding ones.”
Mr Hobby warned that there would have to be “a lot of cramming in maths this year” as whole classes are made to catch up with the new demands.
He added: “The worst thing you can do with maths is rush ahead.”
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers has warned that many of its members feel their schools are not yet prepared to teach the new curriculum.
The association’s education policy adviser, Jill Stokoe, said: “Teachers are saying they haven’t had enough information and some people really haven’t got to grips with the new curriculum. What we are saying to them is to use their judgement.”
She added that there were particular problems with maths introducing some quite complex ideas for very young children.

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