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Teachers to be trained in coding
Top IT businesses and universities are to be handed public funding to set up projects aimed at training teachers to give lessons in computer coding, it has been announced.
The move is part of a bid to get schools teaching coding to inspire the next generation of technology entrepreneurs, the Department for Education (DfE) said.
The announcement comes as a new Year of Code campaign is launched, and ahead of the introduction of a new computing curriculum this autumn.
The DfE said that a £500,000 fund will be set up, with the Government matching money invested by industry and technology businesses to establish schemes to train teachers to teach the new computing curriculum.
Introducing youngsters to computing and coding from an early age is part of the Government's plan to ensure that young people get the education they need to be successful in later life and to ensure that the UK "leads the global race in innovation", the DfE said.
The new computing curriculum was drawn up with support from the Royal Society of Engineering as well as leading firms such as Google and Microsoft.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said: "The new computing curriculum will give our children the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century. That is why we replaced the obsolete and boring curriculum with one that is forward-thinking, modern, and drawn up by teachers, industry experts and leading technology firms.
"I want IT firms, university computing departments and software developers to use this fund to share their knowledge with the next generation."
Chancellor George Osborne said: "We are announcing half a million in funding to allow teachers of the new computing curriculum to be trained by industry experts. In the 21st century, the ability to code and program a computer is no longer a nice-to-have, it's an essential."
The Year of Code campaign, which is being launched at the Skills 2014 conference, will include a series of events aimed at promoting computing to young people, such as a week-long initiative next month encouraging all schools to teach pupils at least one hour of coding.
A survey conducted to mark the start of the campaign found that nearly 60% of the almost 4,000 adults questioned said they thought that computer coding was a vital skill for today's job market.
Lottie Dexter, director of Year of Code, added: "In recent years our economy has changed but our workforce has not. If we are going to crack high levels of youth unemployment, we must ensure that all young people leave school with the right skills for the jobs market.
"However, while the introduction of computing coding in classrooms will be crucial, we also need to ensure the nation is excited about the power and potential of computer science. Over the next twelve months Year of Code will demystify coding and create an understanding of why it is so integral to our daily lives."