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January 9, 2014

IT entrepreneur backs computer coding in primary schools

Pupils as young as 5 will be taught algorithms and simple programme design.

By Duncan Macrae

A government announcement that primary school pupils in England will be taught computer programming as of September has applauded by noted IT entrepreneur, Scott Fletcher.

Children as young as five will be taught algorithms and the ability to design simple programmes. By the age of 11 they will be expected to ‘design, use and evaluate computational abstractions that model the state and behaviour of real-world problems and physical systems’.

Scott Fletcher, who is the chairman and founder of UK cloud infrastructure specialists ANS Group, identified the introduction of coding into the school syllabus as the strength of the new curriculum. "This is something we have campaigned for over a long period of time," he said.

"We should also focus on typing skills from an early age. It is astonishing how many high-grade programmers continue to ply their trade with a ham-fisted, two finger technique," said Fletcher.

"As an employer I find that time and time again, young people aren’t leaving school with the basic social skills they need to begin a career in a tech sector and I know other employers think the same," said Scott Fletcher.

"Academic qualifications are obviously important but I believe we have to steer youngsters away from a totally academic route of learning. We need to instil within them interpersonal and financial skills.

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"For example, when I was at school I had Saturday jobs that introduced me to the world of work and controlling my own finances. I think that was a beneficial system but over the last 20 years 40% of those jobs have disappeared.

"I think that larger employers have a duty of care to provide Saturday jobs for youngsters and our curriculum should include some preparation for them," he said.

The government said that their re-designed curriculum was designed to make the UK compete with the best education systems in the world and it designates what children between five and 14 will learn in all state schools.

"This is a curriculum that is rigorous, engaging and tough," said David Cameron.

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