Exclusive – Teacher training ‘an embarrassment’ says Raspberry Pi co-founder

The efforts of the government to get teachers up to speed with coding and programming has been branded ‘an embarrasment’ and ‘awful’ by Raspberry Pi Trading CEO and co-founder Eben Upton. 

In comments made exclusively to PCR, Upton passionately argued that though progress has been made to improve the IT syllabus, that progress has not been reflected in educating the educators themselves:

"Over the last five years we’ve gone from having a computing curriculum which is very focused on the likes of Excel and Powerpoint, to one which is very focused on programming. That’s fantastic, but unfortunately the government’s investment in teacher training to support that has been wholly inadequate. You’ve got a shiny new curriculum which is really fit for purpose, and you’re expecting people who don’t necessarily have quite the right skillset to go and deliver that in the classroom.

"That’s not fair on anyone. It’s not fair on the kids, it’s not fair on the teachers because they’re professionals and want to do their job. It’s massively demoralising for teachers to be expected to just be thrown in at the deep end with this new curriculum."

The Raspberry Pi Foundation, in addition to Code Clubs and the recently merged-with CoderDojo sessions, runs its Picademy program that runs over a one or two day course to "give teachers that grounding in what we mean when we talk about the modern notion of computing". 

Though Upton says that the Foundation is happy to have a hand in helping teachers, he is unhappy that it has got to this point: "We are doing this and we will do this and we think we’re pretty good at doing this, but fundamentally this is not something we should be having to do."

Photo: Raspberry Pi

When asked if he feels the government can do more, Upton, who was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2016, gave a succinct yet scathing response:

"The government can start by doing something.

"It’s appalling, it’s just appalling. It’s a terrible failure. We advocate constantly to the government that they should step up in this area. Fundamentally, training teachers is a job for the government and we’ll do it while we wait, but we’re not going to stop saying that the government should do it."

However, he was not drawn into politicising the issue, saying that "ultimately the side that’s in government is the side that can do something about it and it’s up to them to step up to the plate".

Read the full interview with Raspberry Pi Trading CEO Eben Upton in the education special of PCR, out later this month.

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