Researchers at the University of Bradford are looking at ways to help teachers prepare for a major shake-up of the way young people learn about computers.
The university’s electrical engineering and computer science school has launched a survey on proposed changes to the computer science curriculum to be taught in schools across the country starting next year.
Their research will help shape how teachers are trained in the run-up to teaching the increasingly important subject.
Under the shake-up of the curriculum, children as young as five will be taught computer programming and how to stay safe online.
Teaming up with Keighley- based e-learning company Webanywhere, the university researchers will ask teachers if they need help in adjusting to the new curriculum, and what form that help should take.
Earlier this year Education Secretary Michael Gove announced that the subject ICT (Information and Computer Technology) would be called “computing” from next September.
From that date children from the age of five will be taught to create computer content, programming, and “computational thinking”.
They will learn how to be safe on the internet, avoiding online predators, and how to keep their personal information safe.
Mr Gove has described the current ICT curriculum as “dated and unchallenging”.
The plans have met with a mixed response so far. A government consultation on the plans raised fears that primary school teachers would be unequipped to teach it, and that there would need to be considerable training to bring teachers up to speed.
The university hopes its research will help shape how the government supports teachers in the months leading up to the rollout of the new syllabus, and to prepare new teachers and update them once it starts.
The research is being sponsored by the Yorkshire Innovation Fund and the European Regional Development Fund as well as the university.
The research team includes Professor Daniel Neagu, Dr Paul Trundle, and interns Rafiullah Hamedy and Lisa Eyre.
Prof Neagu said: “We’re aiming to find out how the right training can be provided to teachers. We want to come up with an academic model that targets teachers and students.”
He said that with the numbers of jobs now requiring computer skills, it was important that as many people as possible were trained to teach the subject.
“The UK has to keep the pace and do what is happening in Europe and the USA,” he said.
They are now calling for teachers to give their views on the changes, by e-mailing codeany firstname.lastname@example.org