Coding – an emerging reality for students and teachers in Europe

by Anja Balanskat Senior Analyst and Project Manager Creative Classrooms Lab

As a follow up of our desk research investigating computing and coding initiatives in schools, we now have a more coherent picture about priorities, school curricula and initiatives across Europe.

Altogether 20 Ministries of Education participated in the EUN survey on coding and computer programming in schools. Here are some of the main findings:

Picture1

Computerprogramming and coding is already part of the curriculum in 12 countries: Bulgaria,
Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and the UK (England) (see graphic: Yes). 7 countries plan to integrate it in the future (see graphic: it is planned). There is no information available from 10 countries (see graphic: ???).

 

 

Does this mean that coding/or compute programming is the only main priority for Ministries of Education when it comes to ICT competence development? Fortunately it is not, 16 Ministries of Education still prioritize Digital Competence Development, developing ICT as a tool for learning and ICT user skills in line with policy initiatives that have been developed in this area for many years.

Picture2But what is the main rationale for integrating coding and programming in national or regional school curricula? The majority of countries participating in the survey, which have integrated computing in the curricula or plan to do so, aim to develop core educational skills such as logical thinking skills, coding skills or core competencies e.g. problem solving skills. Only 10 countries introduce it to respond to the needs of the job market and to foster employability or to attract students to study computer science.

As regards curriculum integration:

  • Computer/Programming/coding is integrated by most countries (10) at upper secondary school level in general education and vocational education.
  • Three countries (Estonia, Greece,United Kingdom (England) integrate it in primary education.
  • Only Estonia and Greece integrate coding and programming at all levels of school education.
  • In 7 countries (BG, CZ, CY,EL, PL, PT, UK (England)) it is compulsory for specific levels of education and mainly part of a computer course.

Given this higher profile of coding in the curriculum in these countries, are teachers prepared to teach this as part of the ICT subject, which is the most common subject, in which coding is taught?

  • 9 countries (BG, CZ, CY, EE, IE, IT, LT, PT and the UK (England)) make training provision (in in-service or pre-service training) to support teachers in teaching computer programming/coding.
  • Ireland offers a variety of activities to teachers as part of initial teacher education (ITE) mainly for the Post Primary ITE sector. In the Primary ITE sector, coding is not included as a mandatory element but some electives maybe offered.

Developing students coding skills can be approached in various ways, in school, within and outside official school hours, and benefitting from a variety of offers from other stakeholders in the field, e.g. by taking part in competitions or coding clubs. 12 countries have reported on their collaboration with industry, sector organisations, computer society clubs, teachers and subject associations, or universities.

First lessons of successful integration will be hopefully learnt in the near future from countries that are today forerunners in this area such Estonia, Greece, Ireland, UK (England). Certainly other interesting initiatives are going on in countries that did not respond to the survey. We will be keeping an eye on the subject. Check details in the report,” Computing our future” which also contains a case study on the introduction of coding in the English curriculum.

If you already feel like starting to learn how to code in one day and create your own app check out the one of the recent initiatives offered by the Sunday Times: http://thesundaytimes.co.uk/learntocode

It just requires a mixture of concentration and creativity to learn the new literacy of the 21st century: //Create play function play() {

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