Scottish Government scheme to improve computer science in schools ‘won’t touch the sides’

Politicians have warned that a £1.3 million Scottish Government scheme to “refresh” computing science in Scotland’s schools “will not touch the sides”.

Schools will be given funding for computing science.
Schools will be given funding for computing science.

Under the scheme, primary and secondary school across Scotland will receive support to improve computing science for pupils.

Secondary schools can bid for grants of up to £3,000 to purchase additional computing science equipment, devices, software or teaching resources.

Every school will also receive two class sets pocket-sized computers that introduce pupils to how software and hardware work together.

Opposition politicians warned that the fund was not enough to upgrade facilities for pupils.

In August 2020, Mark Logan’s independent Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review recommended increased investment to improve computing science provision in schools. Meanwhile, last year, the SNP pledged to provide a brand new computer device to every child if it was elected in the Holyrood elections last May. In the summer, the Scottish Government said discussions with local government are now underway to deliver the “ambitious commitment”, which will give 700,000 children across Scotland access to digital technology.

Scottish Conservative shadow minister for children and young people, Meghan Gallacher, said: “If schools are looking to upgrade their computers and devices for pupils, I’m afraid £3,000 from the SNP Government won’t touch the sides.

“I welcome any new investment in computing science equipment, but this is nowhere near enough. And it doesn’t compensate for the fact that, as figures last month revealed, just 17 per cent of pupils have received the free laptop or tablet promised to them by the SNP at the last election.”

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Michael Marra MSP said: “This does not amount to even a sticking plaster for the massive cut in education resources that will only see the crisis in computing science and digital skills under this government increase. There has been a decline in computing teachers since the Nationalists took office, and computing is increasingly being squeezed from timetables across the country."

He added: “Audit Scotland has recently damned Ministers for their lack of leadership on digital skills.- little wonder. This government has no vision for the future and £3000 for a school that cannot find any teachers is going to do absolutely nothing to sort this serious issue.”

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “It is essential that we have as many talented young people leaving schools with the skills Scotland’s technology sector and wider economy fundamentally depends upon.

“This investment aims to refresh computing science lessons for learners - equipping them with the skills they need for careers in tech."

Mark Logan, chair of the Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review, said: “It’s vital to the future supply of talent into Scotland’s tech sector that Computing Science at school level is elevated to the same level of importance as other STEM subjects. The additional funding for Computing Science announced by the Scottish Government and the formation of STACS, which makes teachers major participants in advancing the subject in Scotland, are key building blocks on the way to that goal.”

A data exercise undertaken by ministers in 2020 identified 77,000 Scots youngsters who did not have sufficient digital access.

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