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Science

British Students Required to Learn Computer Coding

By Liana Loewus — September 03, 2014 1 min read

Starting this school year, students as young as 5 in England will be required to learn computer programming, reports the BBC.

Students in England have been taking information and communications-technology courses since 2000, when the government included ICT in its national curriculum. Under an updated curriculum that went into effect this week, primary and secondary students will now also learn to code.

Between ages 5 and 7, the curriculum says, students will need to “understand what algorithms are, how they are implemented as programs on digital devices, and that programs execute by following precise and unambiguous instructions,” and “create and debug simple programs.” By age 11, they’ll be designing and writing programs with specific goals.

As I’ve written before, coding is picking up steam in U.S. schools, too. However, as of now, less than half of states count computer science as a math or science credit toward high school graduation. And very few elementary age students are learning to code in U.S. schools, though the nonprofit Code.org is trying to change that.

The New York Times reports that Estonia is teaching 1st graders to code and Singapore is planning a similar push.

As for coding in England, Rory Cellan-Jones of the BBC writes that schools will go about meeting the new requirements in different ways, with “some setting aside separate computing lessons, others weaving these ideas through the school day.” And while there’s some thought the new mandates will be especially difficult for elementary schools, Cellan-Jones writes, “I’m not sure about that—at one excellent secondary school I visited recently, ICT teachers appeared confused when I asked about computing and pointed me towards the work pupils were doing learning how to use PowerPoint.”

Oh, and what do you know: The BBC is getting in on the coding mania as well, and just announced a variety of new online programs and resources.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.