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article imageStudy finds school children would rather learn coding than French

By James Walker     Sep 2, 2015 in Technology
A study of UK school children and parents has found most kids would rather be taught how to program than how to speak French. It follows the introduction of a compulsory computing curriculum by the government.
The International Business Times reports on the study by Ocado Technology. In total, 3,000 people were studied covering 1,000 primary school children, 1,000 secondary school children and 1,000 parents. It found primary school children are most willing to learn computing with enthusiasm dwindling into secondary school, although most children would rather learn to code than speak French.
Three-quarters of the primary school children said they would prefer to program a robot in lessons than practise speaking French. By secondary school age, over 50 percent of the sample said they viewed the Computer Science GCSE as an "easy option," typifying the concerns surrounding the general lack of capable young programmers.
The UK government is beginning attempts to resolve this issue, introducing compulsory computing and programming education to primary school children this year. The hope is that the issue of enthusiasm dropping in secondary school can be mitigated by getting more children interested from a young age, pushing more into the Computer Science GCSE and so on into the industry.
IT companies are having to work harder and harder to find capable new recruits. Consumers want so much new technology from so many companies that programmers are in exceptionally high demand — and there aren't enough.
Cyber-security experts are currently particularly lucrative. The UK government has even run advertising campaigns designed to bring in more computer scientists.
Ocado Technology has suggested to the government that the Computer Science GCSE should be made mandatory. Ocado Director, Paul Clark, said of the findings: "Unfortunately this is an example of a wider and more serious problem that we face in terms of Computer Science in the UK not being treated as the serious engineering discipline that it undoubtedly is. The irony is that this is at a time when we are facing a massive shortfall in the number of software engineers and IT specialists who will be required to help build out the UK's digital economy."
The study found that there is the potential motivation to get children interested in coding. Six out of 10 parents said they would prefer their children to learn programming language Python over French. The rest of the study also focused on Python, a real-world language that is often used in schools due to its easy semantics but powerful flexibility. Python can control anything from simple desktop scripts to websites, servers and robots.
The findings conclude that most kids would rather learn to code than to speak a foreign language. However, there is still much more work to be done before computer science is shown in the way that it needs to be for children to start aspiring to be programmers themselves.
More about Programming, Code, Python, Programmer, French
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