back to article 'No, I CAN'T write code myself,' admits woman in charge of teaching our kids to code

The government's "Year Of Code" scheme to bring computer programming into schools for children as young as five has degenerated into a political bunfight. "The word 'coding' has been hijacked and abused by politicians and media who don't understand stuff,” the Raspberry Pi foundation’s director of educational development and a …

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  1. WatAWorld

    Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

    I've consulted for 2 dozen companies and worked for a dozen more in my career, which is coming near an end now.

    Few CIOs or VPs of IT can code. Even many managers were never able to code.

    Even most analysts and project leaders are poor coders.

    Our industry is run by sales people and accountants. This is especially true for big organizations like governments, banks and body shops of all sizes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

      Amen to that. Many a time I've been presented with the over-promising, "why didn't you deliver?" brigade in middle and upper management who couldn't write a line of code themselves but consider everything to just be a piece of piss to deliver.

      1. Stacy

        Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

        I had a problem one with a project manager once. He complained when I gave a two week estimate for some functionality and flipped at me, saying he could code it in 15 minutes.

        I stood up and pushed the mouse and keyboard to him and asked for a master class so I could learn from a genius how to code so fast.

        He walked off grumbling, swearing, and complaining. But never questioned my estimates again :)

        1. VinceH Silver badge

          Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

          "I had a problem one with a project manager once. He complained when I gave a two week estimate for some functionality and flipped at me, saying he could code it in 15 minutes.

          I stood up and pushed the mouse and keyboard to him and asked for a master class so I could learn from a genius how to code so fast.

          He walked off grumbling, swearing, and complaining. But never questioned my estimates again :)"

          I have that particular t-shirt as well. :)

          It wasn't actually a programming issue - it was actually a b0rked spreadsheet problem, and rather than a project manager it was one of the partners in the firm of accounts I worked for at the time (1990ish). I was asked to fix the problems with this spreadsheet, at something like 5:25pm (with an official 5:30pm finish, though I tended to work until closer to 6pm - unpaid, but for practical reasons).

          Having looked at it, I said it was probably two or three hours worth of work, so I'd deal with it in the morning (quite apart from not being paid for working late, there was also the issue that I'd be kicked out by not long after six anyway, when the partners went home - so it wouldn't be possible for me to deal with it there and then).

          He stroppily suggested that I should be able to fix it in a few minutes - in response to which I stood up, and offered him the chair in front of the computer, saying if he's so confident that it would be that easy, he must be able to do it himself.

          He wasn't pleased.

          I never did get on with him, though.

        2. Euripides Pants Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: @Stacy

          "He walked off grumbling, swearing, and complaining"

          That deserves a few beers. Unfortunately, I can buy only one on this forum....

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

          hmm

          this cuts both ways. I was once PMing a project with a critical module still not available aftere three weeks work and holding the whole project up when I foolishly said I could code that in a weekend to which the engineer said OK do it then.

          I did - it took about 5 hours, 6 if you include test but it destroyed the (admittedly poor) engineer and it made me realise I really did not want to be a project manager.

      2. Lusty Silver badge

        Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

        "why didn't you deliver?"

        If they are asking you this, it's likely that you agreed earlier you could deliver it so the fault is not with them. If they ask you to deliver something and you can't, you need to explicitly tell them you can't, and why you or anyone else won't be able to. It's the same when ordering from Amazon, if they say an item is in stock and will deliver on Thursday I have the right to moan if they don't. If I order something which isn't in print and they don't have stock and then complain they will laugh at me, just as you should with your boss if you set the situation up correctly.

        1. Oliver Mayes

          @Lusty

          You've clearly never dealt with scope creep. Being given 2 weeks to complete a task but constantly having the goalposts moved further and further away as more is added into the requirements. And no matter how often you repeat that adding more functionality will push the completion date back there is always that moment some point after the 2 week original deadline where you get asked why you're taking so long to complete a simple 2 week task.

          1. Corinne

            @Oliver Mayes

            There's a little technique from the Project Management world that can be applied here called Change Control. Once something is signed off, every change needs to go through Change Control & have an impact assessment carried out which details cost and time impact of the change - this assessed change request needs to be signed off by management. It's amazing just how many "critical" changes are suddenly dropped when senior management need to sign off a large delay or chunk of cash to implement it.

            1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              Re: @Oliver Mayes @Corinne

              In my experience, change control is never applied to requirements. It would be good if it could, but generally, it's not, especially on something with a duration measured in a few weeks.

              1. Lusty Silver badge

                Re: @Oliver Mayes @Corinne

                "In my experience, change control is never applied to requirements. It would be good if it could, but generally, it's not, especially on something with a duration measured in a few weeks."

                Perhaps that's because you aren't applying it? Those of us who don't get this apparent stream of crap coming down seem to the the same group who understand how to deal with change control properly. Just saying :)

            2. sandman

              Re: @Oliver Mayes

              Oh good lord yes, we introduced change control to a company that had never used it before and requests went down from around 200 (seriously) to about 3 a week. Suddenly projects got completed on time and to budget. The company eventually went bust when they put a director in charge of the company's biggest and most critical project who refused to use any form of change control. After calling endless meetings (one a day, minimum) to discuss why the project wasn't up to date and micro managing every single detail, the project foundered, as did the company.

              1. Corinne

                @Sandman

                Sandman I don't suppose this director was a believer in "Agile" was he? I've noticed that with many (especially smaller) software development companies the term is used to avoid any types of control whatsoever.

                An example of this is where my nephew works, they have their "scrum meeting" every morning lead by the so-called project manager. Everyone working on the project verbally reports progress and blockers, however the PM doesn't even take any notes or actions so every day the same problems come up as no-one has done anything about them. They have no change control, no proper plans, no progress reporting, no risk & issue tracking etc. This is because they do "agile" development so controls just get in the way (sigh).

                1. Dr?

                  Re: @Sandman

                  I've just started working on my first agile project. I'm a tester. I can see how it could work but I can also see the huge problems that could arise from a lack of specifications, a lack of documentation, a lack of issue tracking, a business that hasn't thought about exactly what it wants delivering and developers who think they know best. Not to mention "digital" who come in late in the day with big ideas but not a clue about the business, its customers or an idea about how their grand ideas can actually be implemented into something that is almost finished.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Corinne

              That's all very well, if they'll accept such a procedure in the first place.

              I once found myself on seriously thin ice for writing down all the changes I'd been handed down since the original design document and requesting a meeting to discuss a new timescale. The manager got a bit frustrated, but his manager took it off him, tore it up and wouldn't let it go on file, then summoned me for a bollocking.

              I think I got through on the basis of being most qualified to do any of it. At least I lasted long enough to see the same two sign off on a TickIT quality procedure wot I wrote a few years later.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Lusty

            "You've clearly never dealt with management" Fixed.

        2. Mark 65 Silver badge

          Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

          @Lusty: The beauty of these types is that you don't get to agree. You don't get consulted. You just get told "we've promised X to dept Y in timeframe Z". When that impossibility is not met despite you flogging your guts out, then you get asked the magic question. You also get made out to be the "he must have agreed to it" arsehole that couldn't deliver. Please don't assume these people consult the minions. Shit flows down and praise flows up.

          1. Sooty

            Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

            @ Mark 65

            This is why you keep all of your emails and you challenge it as soon as you are asked to deliver the impossible. If it falls on you, you can pull an email to your manager out that shows you immediately (ie weeks or months before the problem happened) said that it can't be done in this timeframe, with the usual caveats ie "I need x number of people to meet that deadline". It soon goes back up to your manager.

            It's a sad position, but arse covering is a huge part of a developers job, especially as your name could be stamped be all over that 1 line of code that went wrong and cost the company millions.

          2. Lusty Silver badge

            Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

            "You just get told "we've promised X to dept Y in timeframe Z"

            No, I get asked. If you're getting told it means that either you are not senior enough to be consulted (in which case, you're not senior enough to be told off) or you're not considered worth consulting. Either way, if you genuinely are senior enough to be part of the discussion, the above message is the point at which you professionally disagree with them and say no, giving reasons.

        3. h4rm0ny

          Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

          >>"If they are asking you this, it's likely that you agreed earlier you could deliver it so the fault is not with them. If they ask you to deliver something and you can't, you need to explicitly tell them you can't, and why you or anyone else won't be able to."

          I agree with you and modded you up, however, reliably estimating how long a task will take is an advanced skill. I'm serious. Yes, you can give a good estimate for how long it will take you to do some small function or trivial change as a junior programmer, but once you get into larger pieces of work on existing projects or wholly new projects, it takes a lot of experience to give reliable estimates. I recall when I took on my first job writing some device drivers for a customers hardware, I was actually reasonably okay at coding (not so much in retrospect of course, but okay for a fresh new coder), but my estimates of how long it would take me were way off. If someone is project managing software development then they should have enough experience to make some educated guesses themselves. Especially given that they will be applying pressure to their developers to give answers that are spun to sound positive.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Vanir

            Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

            @h4rm0ny

            I down voted you purely on your use of the oxymoron "reliable estimate". Just as good as saying "reliable guess".

            Let's say we use the phrase 'well founded' as a synonym for 'reliable' then we can ask: what is the estimate founded upon?

            Another note: In all my years of professional software development I only once booked / entered my time spent on a project on a system to collect this information and that was on a defence project which was a sub-contract. Even this time was not specific to any requirement or set of functionality.

            When was the last time you did this sort of activity?

            I also note that most developers are on salary and in due course, often do more hours effort than what are their 'nominal contract hours'. When was the last time this extra effort was collected and collated by your management?

            The trouble with software development is that the balls of string we have to look at hide an untold number of knots and these balls can be very tightly attached to one another.

            1. Corinne

              @ Vanir

              Must admit it was a while ago (about 7 years) since I last worked in a place that logged actual hours, but there have been a few places that did. Interestingly, the employers who were best at requiring this weren't companies that were charging a customer but for people doing in-house development e.g. a financial services company, the Civil Service.

              A big element of inaccurate estimating is not breaking a task down into it's component parts. I would ask a developer how long an activity would take, and get "about a week" back from them. I would then ask them about each individual task & how long THAT would take, and that tended to add up to well over 40 hours. Feed in any dependency time (amazing how many people think a code review can be done instantaneously with no resources used!) and you'd end up with a more realistic estimate nearer 2-3 weeks.

              But a lot of the failure to estimate & track time spent on a project properly I blame on MS Project and lazy project managers. Nowadays PMs only seem to want to do "quick & dirty" planning & tracking with the nice & easy MS tool, which used to be incapable of true effort tracking and even now that is a pain to do. But it's quick and easy to produce an outline plan in, lets you do % based tracking (notoriously inaccurate) and produces pretty charts for senior management

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

          '"why didn't you deliver?"

          'If they are asking you this, it's likely that you agreed earlier you could deliver it so the fault is not with them.'

          I surmise that you have never worked for the type of management that brings about such situations; but I assure you they exist and are flourishing. The sales people and their managers "win" business from the competition by promising features and deadlines that are quite impossible. Then they present their technical staff with a fait accompli, and tell them they have to deliver or the company's good name will be ruined, the company's finances will be wrecked, and mainly they will be unemployed. (By the way, this syndrome helps to account for the quality of much commercial software). So the programmers work days, nights and weekends in the hope of delivering something that will pass for barely adequate by the deadline. It's a no-lose proposition for the sales people; if the company goes under, they simply go off to another company complaining how the technical staff at their last place simply weren't up to it. And if the technical manager tells management the promises can't be kept, guess who is believed - him or the sales manager? ***

          On a massively larger scale, similar methods are used to make vast amounts of money out of government contracts (in "defence" and other areas). Company A wins the business by putting in a proposal that simply defies reason; the government eagerly signs them up; and work begins. Two or three years later, the management of Company A suddenly discovers that the agreed work will take twice as long and cost five times as much. They tell the government people that, and implicitly ask, "Which would you prefer: to submit to our blackmail, bearing in mind that the voters won't notice, or to cancel our contract, thereby revealing yourselves to be incompetent?" Guess which the politicians choose.

          *** It's hardly a new scenario. See, for example, Exodus 5:

          6 That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and overseers in charge of the people: 7 “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. 8 But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ 9 Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.”

          10 Then the slave drivers and the overseers went out and said to the people, “This is what Pharaoh says: ‘I will not give you any more straw. 11 Go and get your own straw wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced at all.’” 12 So the people scattered all over Egypt to gather stubble to use for straw. 13 The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying, “Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw.” 14 And Pharaoh’s slave drivers beat the Israelite overseers they had appointed, demanding, “Why haven’t you met your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?”

          15 Then the Israelite overseers went and appealed to Pharaoh: “Why have you treated your servants this way? 16 Your servants are given no straw, yet we are told, ‘Make bricks!’ Your servants are being beaten, but the fault is with your own people.”

          17 Pharaoh said, “Lazy, that’s what you are—lazy! That is why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ 18 Now get to work. You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks.”

        5. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

          >>"why didn't you deliver?"

          >"If they are asking you this, it's likely that you agreed earlier you could deliver it so the fault is not with them."

          I've dealt with more than one PHB who's taken a timeframe from coders and halved it when passing it upstream.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

            "I've dealt with more than one PHB who's taken a timeframe from coders and halved it when passing it upstream".

            Yes, that's typical in-house behaviour. The real fun starts when successive levels of management iterate, reducing the deadline by successive powers of 2.

            Amusingly enough, in the world of contracting (especially government contracting) the reverse process can take place. I was once on a training course whose instructor, a Scot with delightfully dry wit and cynical attitude, told us during a tea break about one project he worked on while programming for such a contractor. He was told the requirements, and estimated that the work would take a month. Then the fun began, as his manager doubled that - only for his manager to double it again, before it was finally doubled once more before being given to the customer. As the customer was a government department and the contractor was a regular supplier, the estimate was of course accepted without question. So the future instructor went on site, did the job in about 10 days (being no fool, he had built in plenty of margin on his own account), and then spent the next 30 or so weeks hanging around reading books and pretending to work. But he got his salary, and the contractor got paid about 20 times what the job was worth - and it was only taxpayers' money, so everyone was happy.

            1. Corinne

              Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

              From the other side of the table, I was planning and estimating projects when I worked in the Civil Service. It would be virtually guaranteed that whatever estimate you gave for cost, you would be told to deliver the project for around 20-40% less money. This obviously meant you would automatically "pad" the estimates so you'd (hopefully) have enough money to complete. And employ the tightest & most painful Change Control process seen to mankind!

              1. Peter2 Silver badge

                Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

                Even if he did sit around for 30 weeks pissing about, at least the project came in on time and on budget!

                1. Vanir

                  Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

                  @Peter2

                  A reliable estimate then!

              2. sorry, what?

                Some managers view things differently

                I worked in defence for over 10 years and often had to inflate estimates, a good 40% 'contingency', in order to get around managers who automatically reduced the estimates by that sort of order when communicating with their managers. They seemed to think that it was OK for them to work 9 to 5 but techies were clearly unable to socialise and therefore didn't need time away from the office when they weren't sleeping.

                Things were better in the telco and web tech domains - the more technically competent/aware managers I met there were more reasonable in their demands, even though 9 to 5 was a rare luxury.

          2. Twist Rolarian

            Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

            Some ID10T's think that just because Scotty was a miracle working engineer, then we all must be.

            1. Peter2 Silver badge

              Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

              Scotty was considered a miracle worker because he multiplied his repair estimates by a factor of 4.

        6. Stephen Gray

          Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

          You don't live in the real world do you?

        7. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

          I hit this problem on an IT project management course at a major global financial institution.

          Day one we were told that 90% of IT projects come in over budget and/or late or fail, never running to completion. Day 10 we had to present our case study to the IT director. Question one: what is your time and resource (staffing) estimate? Having been given that he said the organisation couldn't devote that amount of resource but the project could go ahead with 50% of the proposed resource. Question 2: "how certain are you that you can complete this within (his 50%) budget and on time". Any team that gave an answer less than 100% certainty failed the course.

          In that situation, I just can't imagine why so many projects fail, can you?

      3. Geoffrey W Silver badge

        Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

        There's a different scenario I've come across.

        Work often comes down to the programmer through a chain of command. Programmer estimates finish in one day. Next up in line adds a couple of days for safety - 3 Days. Next up says - A week. Occasionally when the work order comes down, the programmer ends up with the best part of a month to do a one day change. And god help him if he sets a dangerous precedent by finishing sooner.

        1. ChrisB 2

          Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

          This is so true. I do remember one place where I was contracting the PM took me aside after a month and asked me to slow down as the rest of the team (and him) were being made to look bad and that they relied on the weekend overtime payments being slow brought them! This was a financial institution where they were all on bloody good base salaries and some were also contractors.

          However, I have to say that, as a (now) senior manager who used to code for a living, the number of times I've been given delivery estimates which I _knew_ to be ridiculously long and grossly "padded" is legion. The trick is to discuss properly with the developers, challenge where necessary, sign off what's agreed and then have solid change control to avoid the dreaded scope creep.

      4. nuked

        Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

        Execs without exception believe that because a change takes 4 seconds to articulate, it will take roughly the same amount of time to develop.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

      "Few CIOs or VPs of IT can code"

      So? Few coders know anything about running a company, although there are a large percentage who think it's dead easy. The key is knowing your limits and when to ask a specialist.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

        About ten years ago I worked for an IT company whose executive started to think that with new tools and technologies - about which they really understand nothing - they no longer needed skilled (and thereby expensive) developers, but cheap ones - because, of course, "with the right tools everyone can code". I was "let go" because of my salary - and I have to thank them - because two years later the company went bankrupt among failing projects, falling quality, angry customers and so on. But with money saved by hiring low-quality developers they could buy a new company building with fancier executive offices.... sometimes many executive have no clue how to run a company too.

        There's a misconception that running a bananas company and an IT one is the same thing, from an executive perspective. It is not - you need to have a real knowledge of the market your company works with. In the past many large and successful companies were founded and run by engineers and the like - not by sales or business people who think selling bananas and large aircrafts is not very different...

        1. Peter Simpson 1
          Facepalm

          Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

          ...two years later the company went bankrupt among failing projects, falling quality, angry customers and so on.

          Sadly, nobody in command ever seems to learn from these failures.

          They just blame it on the incompetent developers and go somewhere else to do the same thing over again. "F*ck up and move up" is how a former boss put it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

            "Sadly, nobody in command ever seems to learn from these failures.

            "They just blame it on the incompetent developers and go somewhere else to do the same thing over again. "F*ck up and move up" is how a former boss put it."

            That's because, in the management jargon such people love, "you can't drive by looking in the rear view mirror". (Translation: MY mistakes are not to be discussed, EVER. Let's focus on YOUR mistakes).

      2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

        I've been with a number of startups in my career, as well as a couple of mature companies. In both environments, most of the people at all levels have mindsets that can be summed up as follows:

        "Any job I don't understand & have no experience with is easy."

        which is often seen in it's other form,

        "No job is as difficult as mine."

        The bottom line is that good companies require different talents for the different jobs, and they are all important. (Unless there are redundancies, in which case the place is over staffed.)

      3. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

        >Few coders know anything about running a company

        Considering their delivery record, so do few CEOs and VPs.

      4. Dave Bell

        Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

        One of the problems is the idea, coming out of the world of the MBA, that the guy in charge of the business doesn't need to know anything about the specifics of what the business does.

        They don't need to be experts. They do need to know enough to understand the specialists.

    3. harimanjaro

      Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

      The danger is that the VPs and managers of the future will think they can "code" because they did some parrot-fashion HTML and Scratch lessons at primary school. I pity the next generation of proper software developers.

      1. launcap Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

        >The danger is that the VPs and managers of the future will think they can "code" because they did

        >some parrot-fashion HTML and Scratch lessons at primary school.

        When I was at primary school HTML didn't exist. Neither did home computers. Even HTMLs daddy (SGML) wasn't defined until 1986 (by which time I'd almost done^Wfailed my A levels..)

        Kids today eh?

    4. Ben Norris

      Re: Few CIOs or VP ITs can code

      The point you are missing is that it is exactly the lack of basic coding skill or mere general idea of what it entails in everyday people is the thing that needs to change.

      Would you have a writing department in a company led by those who were illiterate? Would you have a company where only a select few could write at all and all work was bottlenecked via them? That is the current situation.

      While there will always be the specialist programmers with full understanding , we need to head towards a point where anyone can do basic scripting to automate their own repetitive tasks and a general understanding of what code is/what is possible. (Of course this also requires software to be scriptable and scripting to be as easy as possible - something we have rather thrown out the window in the touch generation)

  2. Davie Dee

    theres two parts to her having this job, they're polar extremes, im just pointing it out...

    Ok, situation, Person gets a job teaching something she knows nothing about or in fact has any experience in (from the details of the article).

    Firstly, you don't need to know anything about a subject to manage it at a very top level, her skills, albeit unproven, could well be that she is a master at planning and thinking of the big picture which hopefully is exactly what has happened, the flip side of that is shes a good "face" for the campaign with some even better connections....

    1. the spectacularly refined chap

      But we know it's already going pear shaped. If you look at any of the media reporting it seems the whole concept is being diverted into things like basic HTML markup. I wouldn't call that computer science, more an extension of the existing ICT syllabus.

      If you really wanted to push CS into schools the way to do it is not as some kind of bit part. Use one of the very high level functional languages, e.g. SML, to reduce the amount of red tape, and introduce it in lower high school alongside basic algebra. That way the two areas directly reinforce each other.

      1. Mattjimf

        I'm still wondering how coding fell out of the syllabus.

        When I started high school (Scottish system) we had computing in first and second year where we were taught basic and started with the mundane make the screen flash up to getting a car to move round a track. This was back in 1991, now it seems that that has been abandoned and forgotten, to suddenly be rediscovered by the current boom in the technology sector.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Suspect that this might be a Scotland only thing, I did GCSEs in England and highers in Scotland in 98/99 and the computing higher that I did was the first programming that I had done in an educational setting.

      2. h4rm0ny

        >>"If you look at any of the media reporting it seems the whole concept is being diverted into things like basic HTML markup"

        That's inevitable. Real programming is hard. Or at least takes a lot of knowledge and development of skills. It's not possible to cram all that in amongst everything else at a school environment. And yet at the same time, it is intolerable that whole years of kids might fail a subject. Therefore they must change the subject to something much easier (and less useful as a subject) and keep calling it programming. This has been doomed from the outset and I doubt the lady in this article could have changed that.

        1. Moosh
          IT Angle

          @ h4rm0ny

          One thing I regret the most is the direction my education took. I personally ended up studying history at university. Don't get me wrong, it was enjoyable and I loved it, but had I been exposed to something more than simply making flowcharts and dodgy looking "websites" using clip art and Microsoft publisher while at school I'm pretty sure I would have realized my interest and passion for IT a lot sooner (when I might have actually been able to tailor my education around it).

          I was exposed to electronics for a single year at secondary school, which looking back on it, I absolutely loved. But after that year it just dropped off the map and was forgotten by everyone; I believe I was one of the last year groups to actually have the mandatory electronics part of Design & Technology (after which the only things the school taught that was related in any way to Technology was the use of video editing software in media studies, a basic 3D modelling program in Design and the aforementioned dodgy IT lessons).

          It pains me that things like this seem to require specialist schools in the UK; I feel as though I was cheated out of potential futures just because schools like to boast about how many of their students get into University and end up neglecting anything more specific than mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology - and indeed even neglecting to inform students of the many different applications and career opportunities these areas offer them. My school actually entered into a partnership with a business and started promoting Business and Media studies above all else.

          1. h4rm0ny

            Re: @ h4rm0ny

            Oh, I fully agree with introducing subjects to pupils in sufficient detail that they get a chance to see what it's about and pique their interest. But I would far rather you get a week of programming, then a week of something else, in order to introduce higher level subjects properly to children so they can make informed choices about higher education and find out that they enjoy something. But if there's a whole two years of watered down programming... that's just going to ill-serve most children and pump out bad programmers and force universities to spend more time trying to (a) undo damage, (b) repeat material for kids to get everyone to the same level.

        2. the spectacularly refined chap

          That's inevitable. Real programming is hard. Or at least takes a lot of knowledge and development of skills. It's not possible to cram all that in amongst everything else at a school environment.

          That's precisely my point. It needn't be. For a start remember we are talking about a foundational level here - no one is suggesting high schools should be turning out CS graduates. Secondly, with an intelligent choice of tools and proper integration it could actually reinforce existing material. This is why I suggested functional programming: it's obviously not got so much commercial relevance but allows pupils to focus on what is essential rather than peripheral.

          I mentioned SML in my previous post so we'll stick with that for the time being. "3 + 7;" is a complete and useful SML program - key it in at an interpreter and it gives you the result. No need for compilation or a containing program to get parameters or communicate the result. In that sense it's a basic calculator.

          Go one step further to an early example of a useful algebraic equation: ⁰F = 9/5 ⁰C + 32. That translates more or less directly to an SML function, again with no need for a surrounding program:

          fun CtoF c = 9.0/5.0 * c + 32.0;

          A factorial is defined as

          - The factorial of 0 is 1

          - The factorial of n is n multiplied by the factorial of (n-1)

          Again it translates directly:

          fun factorial 0 = 1

          | factorial n = n * factorial (n-1);

          We've only scratched the surface yet, but we've already established the idea in the pupil's mind of programming as solving computations rather than making text scroll across the screen or something equally pointless. It's also strongly reinforced the maths syllabus by showing real world relevance. You can go on to discuss sorting algorithms or basic data structures as time permits.

    2. h4rm0ny

      Oh, I agree. She might be a consummate organizer and manager and that's okay by me. My big issue is that programming shouldn't be taught to kids. Introduced to them - absolutely. A couple of lessons to show the basics of programming, part of a General Studies component if they still have that. But at that age, the focus should be on foundational skills - maths, language, history. You learn these first because skills like programming are about the application of your foundational skills. It's the reason I loathe ICT as a subject. Teach maths and someone can work with any spreadsheet with a little familiarization. Teach spreadsheets and you just have a pile of rapidly out of date program specific knowledge that you can't use very effectively.

      Maths and English and History skills in this country are on average pretty poor, imo. Focus on those.

      1. Tim Soldiers

        Why History ?

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Just to rub Gove's nose in it.

      2. Tim99 Silver badge
        Unhappy

        @h4rm0ny

        Good comment.

        I got into computing via a back door, writing programmes for use by myself and colleagues in one of the fundamental sciences in the 1970s. I am retired now but I still mentor people and assess them for technical competence for a national accreditation body.

        My (generally middle aged or older) colleagues and I have noted over the last fifteen years or so that the education system has failed our younger colleagues in one important respect - The (usually highly intelligent) people that we see are unable to put the subjects that they have learnt to practical use. In many cases, younger professionals are unable to function without direct supervision or instruction, and that any initiative that they might show is discouraged by their management (who generally have little practical experience themselves). I believe that this is because schools, colleges, and universities now train people to pass exams and not to think . Someone who has been taught to think can solve problems, someone who was trained to pass an exam may well be lost when they have to go outside their syllabus.

        Even if we thought that this style of "education" was the best option, I have personal experience of students who were unable to pass the exam being "helped" because they had spent a lot of money to be on the course. The powers-that-be do not want their course to be thought difficult because few students will want to apply. Fewer students means that there is less money available to the department, and its power and importance in the institution is therefore reduced.

        This might be the ravings of an old fart, but I am seriously worried about the competency of many of the people in the professions who will be running everything as I continue the gentle decline into senility.

        1. Vanir
          Joke

          Re: @h4rm0ny

          @Tim99

          Don't worry old fart, you are being replaced by much younger, fresher farts! And, more significantly, much cheaper farts!

        2. Moosh

          Re: @Tim99

          You've reminded me of a story my old mathematics tutor told me:

          He had a kid in who seemed to be really intelligent, was getting every question right, etc., but when he sat the maths exam he didn't do quite as well as usual. When the tutor asked him about it, he said that there was a question that involved thawing a turkey, but that he had never encountered the term "thaw" before, and so he left it out. My tutor had to explain to him that thaw was not a mathematical term.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Davie Dee

      "Firstly, you don't need to know anything about a subject to manage it at a very top levelFirstly, you don't need to know anything about a subject to manage it at a very top level..."

      Don't you believe it. This item of faith is probably the number one reason for the terrible state of British management and business, not to mention the chronic failure of governments to get results.

      It's true there is room for some people who are, above all, "people specialists" - I don't mean HR people, they are the diametric opposite of people specialists. In their classic book "Peopleware" (which all managers should read) De Marco and Lister describe a person who mysteriously caused every team of which she was a member to excel - although she had no obviously relevant or outstanding skills. Those teams just, somehow, jelled and worked far more effectively than others.

      But the top boss does need to understand the work that is being done - and in a deep, comprehensive way. Otherwise you get heaps of trouble.

      1. Davie Dee

        Re: @Davie Dee

        I agree that there are jobs that do need to know specific detailed knowledge of what there "product" is but I don't believe it is compulsory. What I believe has happened, as you point out that's ruined the country, are people with no technical knowledge as well has having zero managerial skills and an inability to learn there product / teams.

        You don't need to know the workings of a product to successfully manage the people that do know it, sadly the people in charge of these things often get their jobs based on political / personal ties with people that have influence in filling these roles.

        The best ones are those decision making managers with huge shares in the company. Can anyone say conflict of interest!

      2. itzman

        you don't need to know anything about a subject to manage it at a very top level

        In a perfect world with perfect employees, that is true. You may take their 100% accurate information, and use it to make only those decisions appropriate to our level of management.

        However, in a world of human beings, how if you know nothing about their jobs, will you know if they are simply lying to you?

        Years ago when Britain still had a manufacturing industry one of my PCB's was going into production and the production manager said 'the girls can't stuff that board in less than 45 minutes. I said 'rubbish, I bet you I could stuff it in under 15 minutes.

        I did it in 12 minutes sitting down at the carousel..

        we set the rate at 20.

    4. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
      Coat

      @David Dee

      "Firstly, you don't need to know anything about a subject to manage it at a very top level"

      I think we tried that with Paul Flowers and the Co-operative bank. He knew nothing about banking and ran it outstandingly.

      We need a "QED" icon. I'll grab my coat and go see if I can make one.

  3. Mike Wilson

    Teaching kids to code?

    So the money set aside to teach kids to code will be gobbled up by consultants, PR types and other useless people who won't be teaching kids to code. Is anyone surprised by this?

  4. Purlieu

    Oh

    They are going to teach them HTML, I see now the difference between "coding" and "programming"

    1. Cave Dweller

      Re: Oh

      Exactly. Even the term "year of code" doesn't bode well with me. I'd much rather more emphasis was put on programming and problem solving. Jumping around languages such as C++, Java, Javascript, Pascal, and VB, the "coding" isn't too bad to learn, but learning the patterns, best practices, and elegant solutions are the skills that I'd consider important.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Idiocracy

    It's a government initiative so:

    - it won't work.

    - the only jobs it'll create are for a few of 'call me' Dave's latest cronies.

    - it'll be forgotten about in 6 months whilst simultaneously being a great success. Someone, maybe the blond PR drone, will get a CBE.

    - not a single person will learn to code from this.

    I applaud the whole programme and all those who are involved, for services to the UK IT industry: making our jobs even more vital in the future than they are now.

    1. dogged

      Re: Idiocracy

      > - the only jobs it'll create are for a few of 'call me' Dave's latest cronies.

      And madam here only finished a Politics degree three and a half years ago, and her CV shows some propaganda for Irritable Duncan Syndrome and some different propaganda for another bigwig. Oh, and expensive hair and makeup.

      Accurate job title? Grandee cock-holster.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. dogged

          Re: Idiocracy

          @ " 's water music" - nice one, loses something in the forum display, btw.

          I don't think it's misogyny apart from the deliberate crudity of the phrasing. Somehow, this politics graduate has taken her worthless degree and got several highly paid and extremely visible jobs out of it without producing anything at all in under four years. Most people with a similarly useless degree would be asking whether you want fries with that.

          It's either nepotism or she's fucking somebody. Or a cynical attempt to get publicity in the Daily Telegraph when it's not publishing pictures of all the fit girls who got their A level results but none of the fat ones.

    2. Chad H.

      Re: Idiocracy

      It seems you've learned political code, so someone learned to code...

    3. Shoot Them Later
      Facepalm

      Re: Idiocracy

      You can tell it's ridiculous simply from the fact that the 'director' of this initiative has the temerity to go on Newsnight to tell Paxman that "you can create a web site in an hour", but has not personally invested that hour to try it herself [and shame on Paxo for not picking her up on this].

      It's bad enough that an obvious inexperienced political crony gets appointed to this sort of position, but I would have been prepared to cut her an awful lot more slack if she'd come on and said "I'm a non-technical person with no experience of coding, but I tried some of this stuff and I learned something - and I am enthusiastic about helping other people go through the same learning journey" [or something along those lines].

      The problem isn't really just having people with no domain experience in charge of projects, it's also with having people in charge who won't eat their own dog food. But that's the political class for you.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Go for it?

    Billions of people can write in one or more of hundreds of languages, but only a small fraction can write worthwhile novels, poetry, lyrics etc. We recognise that and those that are particularly skilled can generally make a decent living out it.

    If everyone was taught to code, then maybe people would finally appreciate that the ability to write decent code is a skill well worth paying properly for.

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Go for it?

      Very good point. When teaching "Introduction to Computing Science" which runs in parallel to "Imperative Programming" in the first term of our CS programme, I always point our students to Peter Norvig's excellent page Teach yourself programming in ten years. Really top-notch programming is a skill that requires years of dedication to master. This is thoroughly underestimated by many.

      This is also illustrated by our some of staff members regularly stunning students with our ability to find bugs near instantly in code that has been baffling them for hours or even days. This even happens to MSc students who have four or five years of course work under their belt. I then remind them that I have been making that kind of programming mistake (we all do) for 25 years at a professional level, so of course I can find them more easily.

      1. HollyHopDrive

        Re: Go for it?

        Oh my god.... I haven't laughed that much in ages. That is the best interview I've seen. I'm still wiping the tears of laughter from my eyes........

        I've ranted before about teaching kids to code, but apparently you can build a website in an hour. Does make you question if its that jeffin' easy how come the government have had to get big consultancies in to build all this IT stuff. We've spend billions when apparently a days training and a couple of hours work would have sorted everything.

        Mind you, IMHO Michael Gove seems to know bugger all about education (having gone to school doesn't make you an expert in education in the same way using the tesco website to do your shopping doesn't make you a web developer) so this level of apparent incompetence should come as no great shock.

        eCards....brilliant......economic and job crisis over.....

        "What is code" and then that look from the woman....hahahhaha......I'm going to be smiling about this all week.

    2. Dr Stephen Jones

      Re: Go for it?

      "If everyone was taught to code, then maybe people would finally appreciate that the ability to write decent code is a skill well worth paying properly for."

      People can appreciate that writing decent code is a skill every time they see a BSOD at their cash machine. Teaching every child to code is therefore completely unnecessary.

      1. DropBear Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Go for it?

        Some other people look at that same BSOD at the cash machine (or ATM(!) or giant billboard) and instead of what you and I see they see it's working perfectly adequately the rest of 99.99% of the time as it is, therefore improving anything or upholding higher quality is entirely uncalled for and definitely wasteful of oh-so-precious resources. Sadly...

    3. MrXavia
      Thumb Up

      Re: Go for it?

      Good Point!

      Just 'knowing how to code' does not make you a programmer.

      It is a skill, a talent, and 'teachers' teaching it when they don't know anything about it is a bad thing...

      Can you imagine BSc Comp Sci classes filled with kids who think they can code because they were taught it at school by someone following a book....

      I shudder to imagine..

  7. Lusty Silver badge

    I hate to say it...

    Coders are the new factory workers and this is setting up that exact scenario. The country needs a large number of people who can write code to fulfil a design done by someone else. They don't need to know about web design, they don't need to know how to write an algorithm, they just need to be able to write and debug code having followed what someone higher up has produced.

    Unfortunately for these education people, they will need to read and write. Judging by the school output I've seen this would appear to also need some work.

    1. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Re: I hate to say it...

      > Coders are the new factory workers

      I have mixed feelings about this initiative.

      On the one hand I welcome anything that adds to the technical content of the school curriculum (i.e. has a relevance to the modern, technical, world). On the other I can see this programme as a transparent ploy to grab some headlines without having any sort of measurable benefit.

      As far as "factory workers" are concerned, I am not so sure. These children won't have any tangible skill at the end of this, but they will have gained a minuscule amount of familiarity with a small subset of buzzwords used today. While that knowledge will almost certainly be obsolete by the time they leave school, that amount of jargon will set them up nicely to fill management roles - but not to do anything meaningful or creative. If it also conveys the view that "coding" is a difficult process and that the real talent is the analytical process required before any "code" is written, then it might, just, have some worth.

      But that's all we should expect or hope for from any educational scheme like this.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I hate to say it...

      "Coders are the new factory workers and this is setting up that exact scenario. The country needs a large number of people who can write code to fulfil a design done by someone else".

      Another perfect example of what happens when the partially sighted are led by the blind. Managers (and politicians in this country at least) know so little about computing that they imagine "coding" to be a simple, low-skilled job that any fool can do if they are not talented or ambitious to go into finance, law or politics where the money is.

      Of course, the whole paradigm is entirely, disastrously wrong. You get the best results when analysts are expert programmers already, and the programmers understand the skills and difficulties of analysis. On small enough projects, the ideal is to have one person do both.

      Suffice it to point out that the view of coders as "factory workers... who can write code to fulfil a design done by someone else" is about as far away from agile development methods (such as XP) as it's possible to get.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: I hate to say it...

      That was a company I worked for ten years ago started to think - they thought "developers" should be low-end, barely skilled workers "assembling" components written elsewhere following design blueprints made by "analysts" who had no clue about IT. That company went bust two years after management "let go" skilled, expensive developers and relied only on the "new factory workers".

      1. Lusty Silver badge

        Re: I hate to say it...

        developers are not low end but coders certainly are. It takes very little skill to write code when someone else has given you the design and algorithms. The skill is in the upper layers. Just like with infrastructure, I may design a SAN but I certainly don't need to be the guy unboxing it and screwing it into a rack and the web designer who did a page layout shouldn't have to sit down and write lines of HTML or Javascript. Code writing is extremely low end work for the most part and unless you're the guy designing the application/database/layout etc then you're the factory worker

        1. amanfromarse

          Re: I hate to say it...

          Let me guess, you're in the 'upper layers'.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I hate to say it...

            "Let me guess, you're in the 'upper layers'."

            Well then let me guess too, you just left uni and think you're as good as all the guys who've been doing it for years?

  8. John H Woods Silver badge

    Kids who can think ...

    ... can code if they want to.

    Teaching children to think more effectively, however, has always appeared very low on the list of priorities of all governments - the conspiracy view might be that perhaps they prefer a more docile popuation; but I tend to subscribe to the cockup view: politicians just cannot leave education alone, so it continues to suffer the consequences of decades of misuse for partisan point scoring and electoral gambits, whilst those with any clue as to its improvement are sidelined and ridiculed.

    Although I am very much in favour of teaching British kids to code, that is a view about eductation itself and applies equally to teaching them, say, history. I'm in two minds, however, about whether coding should be automatically considered an economically valuable skill. On the one hand it is probably the most offshorable skill set in the world; on the other hand much of the offshore code I have personally seen is suboptimal, and significant amounts of it comedically bad. Perhaps there really will be a market for British coders once the long-term impact of the current craze of cost-control-above-everything-else hoves into sharper focus.

    1. clod computing is big

      Re: Kids who can think ...

      Sure. But if any of the poohbahs knew their asses from holes in the ground, you could "teach them to code" simple games and interactive web thingys for the olds to feel proud of with http://scratch.mit.edu/ - the technology is free and very limited but in a way that should allow teachers to focus on what they do best - helping the kids learn some subject matter creatively. In making things, kids that get it learn that writing code is sometimes like putting lego bricks together which is probably a fairly good primary school lesson - plus they (apparently) can have fun. Checkout the simple game video and http://scratch.mit.edu/educators/

      No, I'm not affiliated in any way.

      1. keithpeter
        Childcatcher

        Re: Kids who can think ...

        @ clod computing is big

        "...you could "teach them to code" simple games and interactive web thingys for the olds to feel proud of with http://scratch.mit.edu/"

        Environments like Scratch can also be used to teach Maths through fun things as well as the activity of making a computer do things. I sometimes think we've forgotten the fun bit amid the target driven content driven machine we have in education in the UK right now.

        Please remember this is all about children in school. Any attempt to 'make it real' by analysing some idiotically simplified business scenario and using a simplified system to program a solution will get us back to the ICT disaster.

        Much better I think to develop problem solving skills, debugging skills and checking skills ('does this really do what I think it does?'). The minority who want to do more work with computers when they leave school will have some skills and will find out about the messy and political reality in most businesses when they get there.

      2. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Kids who can think ...

        Just had a quick look at your link, it is clear that every government IT department and definitely all of the Teach Kids Coding Crowd should complete all the sections and projects in it before being allowed to call themselves IT people or recommend what and how kids should learn coding..

      3. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: Kids who can think ...

        :-) you don't need to sell Scratch to me - I've been in love with Smalltalk, Squeak, Seaside and Scratch for years and years and years !

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Schol Reform

    Schools don't need to teach computer science. Is it a big industry? Yes, yes it is. Is it a skill as important as the three Rs? Heck no.

    More to the point, this is among many subjects they're trying to get added to the curriculum, without having anything removed. I'd much rather see them teach life skills in schools, things like how to write a cheque / pay bills. How to re-write a plug, take meter readings or even some basic electronics like fitting a light switch etc. This is something I feel is as important as the 3 Rs. I haven't been taught any electronics while at school, I'm currently moving into my first property which has a bit of work needing to be done. I find myself calling my dad every 5 minutes asking how to do the most simple of household tasks.

    Aside from a 'life skills' class, the only other reform I'd like to see is a change in school hours, change it from 9-3:15 (or whatever it is right now) to 8 - 5. Why? How many parents out there want to work, or rather need to wrok to support their families, but can't because they need to pick up and drop off the kids from school. Not only that it'd give more time to teach all these extra subjects schools want taught.

    ---

    following are random wishes, but not important so far as school reform goes, therefore less babble

    1: Daily PE rather than weekly, with no BS excuses to get out of it.

    2: Bringing options selection forward to year 9 or even 8 in senior school to allow a better focus earlier for those who know what they want to do.

    3: Larger array of 'after school activities' and 'breakfast clubs' (not advocating these should be free mind you)

    PE would help with the obesity problem, as well as concentration at schools. Almost every kid I went to school with who had ADHD was almost perfectly behaved after PE, at least for a few hours anyway.

    Bringing options forwards would help those who have a clear direction sooner, most kids I went to school with had an idea what options they wanted to take before they even got to high school. Would also mean we can offer a better quality education at college since the kids will have had better focus on their target subject already. (bringing options forward could also be a good way to introduce comp sci. First two years on basic IT, with the last two years looking at HTML and javascript, as well as basic object oriented design)

    After school and before school activities would again help out parents who have to work odd hours, these however would not be free activities, but it would be better to pay a few quid to an after school club, than a lot of cash to a carer to pick them up from school. In some situations you could possibly have student managed clubs for senior school etc, where the teacher just needs to be nearby in case of emergancy.

    Sorry this has turned out so ramblish. School reform is one of the few political things I'm somewhat passionate about, then again based on statistics I went to the worst infant and junior school and colleges in the region, senior school wasn't that bad, but the rest of my education has kinda tainted my opinion.

    1. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: Schol Reform

      1: Daily PE rather than weekly, with no BS excuses to get out of it.

      That's a quarter of the school day gone already then. Forget adding anything else to the syllabus - are you going to get rid of maths, English or science to make way for it?

      I don't see why kids can't stay on till four or half four instead of three or half three, especially in secondary school, but that is the world we live in.

      1. Patrick Moody

        Re: Schol Reform

        He also said:

        "change it from 9-3:15 (or whatever it is right now) to 8 - 5."

        I'd estimate that you get 5 hours lessons from a 9-3:15 day and at least 7 hours from an 8-5 day, which would more than make up for the difference. I think the anonymous coward actually made some pretty good suggestions.

        1. P_0

          Re: Schol Reform

          He also said:

          "change it from 9-3:15 (or whatever it is right now) to 8 - 5."

          I'd estimate that you get 5 hours lessons from a 9-3:15 day and at least 7 hours from an 8-5 day, which would more than make up for the difference. I think the anonymous coward actually made some pretty good suggestions.

          One small problem with that idea. The NUT(ters).

          1. David Barrett Silver badge

            Re: Schol Reform

            One actual problem with that... You talking about kids doing 8am-5pm days?

            So a 9 hour day... For kids, how much do you think they will take in in that last hour or so?

            That's more than I work full time and I cant concentrate at the end of the day!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Schol Reform

        @Spectacularly Refined Chap

        If I were going to suggest any subjects be removed, it would be religious studies or history. Although I'd rather suggest that the amount of effort put into both be reduced and focused rather than removed completely. As an example, I don't know what we gain from learning that old king hal was full of beans, and married half a dozen queens. But I do understand the importance of being taught more recent history such as the great war and WW2 (as well as other wars we've been involved in which aren't really taught at all like the faulklands)

        And clearly maths shouldn't be removed. After all, if daily lessons take 1 hour and kids currently spend 4.5 hours in school, ( removing an hour for lunch, and half an hour for a morning break) and 1 hour is taken up for PE, that's closer to 2/9 than 1/4. Of course, with the extension of school to 8-5. Take an hour for lunch, and half hour in the morning, and afternoon, they'd be attending 7 hours of curricular activities, P.E woudl only take up 1/7 of the day, leaving 6 hours in the day for other activities, which is still more time spent on education than they would have had with the original 9-3:15 schedule.

      3. Sooty

        Re: Schol Reform

        1: Daily PE rather than weekly, with no BS excuses to get out of it.

        If that were to happen, they would also need to make sure it was real PE, and not just an hour of running around a field kicking a football, which is what mine were. Actually include some education bits, although maybe that was just my school.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Schol Reform

          Nope, wasn't just your school. Although I was advocating Daily PE more as a get kids active than a get them learning about PE thing. Whether it be kicking about a football, playing hockey, or doing athletics (dependant on the weather)

          It's only those in senior school who chose P.E. as an option who were taught about anatomy and other bits like that (I didn't take it, so not entirely sure what was covered on the booksmart part)

        2. Squander Two

          PE

          > 1: Daily PE rather than weekly, with no BS excuses to get out of it.

          Right, so you want to make sure the kids who are reckless enough to allow their intelligence to show get a daily session of institutionalised bullying. And, somehow, this will improve educational standards. Because that's what happens: if you punch someone every time they get an A, they get more As, right?

          And don't give me any of that shit about ensuring children keep fit or tackling obesity. If schools had the remotest interest in either, they wouldn't devote so much effort to conditioning children to associate physical exercise with torture and humiliation. Twenty-five years later, the reason I and millions of others avoid exercise and sport like the plague is that we were taught to at school.

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: PE

            Twenty-five years later, the reason I and millions of others avoid exercise and sport like the plague is that we were taught to at school.

            I wish I could upvote you more than once.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: PE

              @Phil O'Sophical - happy to add my vote to yours!

              I exercise now, but that's despite school PE rather than because of it. I run, I cycle, I occasionally get to go snowboarding, but I most certainly do not force myself to endure some kind of awful communal torture with a bunch of my peers who are at least as unpleasant human beings as on the playing field as they are in the playground.

              School PE makes no allowances for individualists, the shy, the bullied or those whom have a particular dislike of whatever cold, violent team sport is being imposed on any given week. PE was always the most obvious and brutal way the education system had of forcing kids into the standard mould. Making it a daily event without fixing this is just wrong.

              Daily exercise though? Sounds great.

          2. wowfood

            Re: PE

            http://fit.webmd.com/teen/move/article/exercise-boosts-brain

            http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/teens-exercise-regularly-better-grades-study-article-1.1494199

            And of course, not to mention the growing number of people in school who suffer from depression and go untreated. With statistics showing an increase in the suicide rate.

            http://news.sky.com/story/1041290/significant-rise-in-the-number-of-suicides

            Because as we all know, exercise is one of the best anti-depressants out there.

            http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression

            1. Squander Two

              Re: PE

              It is completely immaterial whether exercise is a good antidepressant. School PE lessons are a depressant.

    2. keithpeter
      Windows

      Re: Schol Reform

      "I'd much rather see them teach life skills in schools, things like how to write a cheque / pay bills. How to re-write a plug, take meter readings or even some basic electronics like fitting a light switch etc."

      Should parents perhaps be doing that as part of bringing up their children?

      Look at the famous international comparisons that 'call me Dave' is always pointing to. Tally the school day length with outcomes. Reaslise that we need less schooling, not more, but that we do need more parenting.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Schol [sic] Reform

      "change it from 9-3:15 (or whatever it is right now) to 8 - 5."

      Are you just looking for a child dumping ground then?

      I have the honour of living in a country with schools which do follow an 8:30-4:30 or 9-5 timetable (depending on the school) and I don't see what positive effect it has on them. Negative effects include teaching them how to pointlessly fill in hours at their future workplace and making them come home knackered and irritable.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Schol [sic] Reform

        "Negative effects include teaching them how to pointlessly fill in hours at their future workplace and making them come home knackered and irritable."

        In that case, perhaps we should motivate the little beggars a bit. Let's have an entrance exam for secondary school - any that fail get sent to a workhouse.

        We'll be competing with China again in short order I'd wager and the scarce educational resources can be spent on those that *want* to learn.

    4. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      Re: Schol Reform

      Oh, the irony of someone insinuating that teaching and education are fair game for the armchair ignoramus.

      "Aside from a 'life skills' class, the only other reform I'd like to see is a change in school hours, change it from 9-3:15 (or whatever it is right now) to 8 - 5."

      Good luck with that. Leaving aside the fact that teaching is actually a hell of a lot harder than you appear to think it is, the human brain can only process so much new data in a day. The brain suffers from fatigue, just like your muscles do.

      There's a good reason why so many EU nations have shorter hours for their schools than the UK's. (The trick is to demand more homework, rather than more Victorian-style spoon-feeding in a classroom.)

      "1: Daily PE rather than weekly, with no BS excuses to get out of it."

      With all due respect, [WORD THAT RHYMES WITH 'LUCK'] you and the high horse you rode in on. I hated PE with a passion, the depth of which you couldn't even begin to conceive. I've always preferred working out on my own in a gym, listening to music. Team sports – professional and otherwise – have never remotely interested me.

      "2: Bringing options selection forward to year 9 or even 8 in senior school to allow a better focus earlier for those who know what they want to do."

      And what about those who don't? Have you spent even a microsecond considering the logistical and timetabling nightmare you're proposing here?

      "PE would help with the obesity problem, as well as concentration at schools."

      Firstly, know this: There is no such thing as an "obesity problem". There is a media obsession with scaremongering – because fear sells – but there has been no appreciable increase in actual childhood obesity measured using accurate metrics. Fact. (And, dear lord, if I hear the phrase "obesity epidemic" – as if obesity were somehow contagious – I swear I won't be held responsible for my actions.)

      Any article or report you read that mentions using Body-Mass Index ("BMI") as a key measurement can be trivially dismissed as 100% fact-free scaremongering. BMI was discredited long ago as it utterly fails to account for muscle mass. Muscle is twice as dense as fat. BMI treats muscle as fat: Arnold Schwarzenegger would be considered "morbidly obese" under that system.

      "Almost every kid I went to school with who had ADHD was almost perfectly behaved after PE, at least for a few hours anyway."

      ADHD has surprisingly little to do with being "well behaved" or otherwise: plenty of kids with ADHD diagnoses manage not to disrupt their classes. All it does is affect concentration and focus, making it easier for you to get distracted.

      I found doodling on a pad and creating little flick-book animations in the corners of my exercise books helped relieve the boredom of being taught about 1066 and all that in history lessons. (Or Computer Studies O Level: those of us who went into IT careers already knew more than our teacher did by then in any case.)

      While those kids that do tend to disrupt lessons may or may not have ADHD, what they definitely have is a dire need for a bloody good clout round the ear. And better parenting.

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: Schol Reform

        Upvote because I agree with most of what you've said (particularly re PE and BMI, two things I hate with a passion for multiple reasons, some of them related; I'm in great shape...round is a shape) but mainly for the laser guided vehemency.

        Did you help write Falling Down by any chance? ;-)

        Steven R

      2. James Hughes 1

        Re: Schol Reform

        Anecdotally.

        We had one fat girl in my primary school, and about two fat people at my senior school. (left school in 85)

        Now, I see more chubby/fat children at the local primary, and at the bus stop for senior stuff, than I saw in my entire school career.

        But it would be interesting to have official figures. But I trend to believe my own eyes rather than those anyway.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Schol [sic] Reform

        "Leaving aside the fact that teaching is actually a hell of a lot harder than you appear to think it is, the human brain can only process so much new data in a day. The brain suffers from fatigue, just like your muscles do".

        And the brain adapts to handle more and harder work, just as your muscles do. Ask any Olympic marathon runner. If he had followed your advice, he'd never have run more than 3 miles at a time.

        At any good independent school - where the curriculum is planned according to what works best, not some idiot politician's pet theories - pupils are taught actively for up to 45 hours a week - plus at least 7 hours of evening study/prep. They thrive on it, and that's why such schools get far more university entrances and scholarships than the average state school.

        As for the teachers, it is true that good teaching is a demanding job and plenty of prep time is needed. That is taken care of by having excellent teachers, competent department heads, and an adequate pupil/teacher ratio, sufficient to let the average class size be about 20 while giving teachers plenty of time for prep, marking, and time off. Long holidays - which are affordable when a 13-week term packs in over 500 classroom hours and 100 hours of solitary study - give everyone a chance to relax and enjoy themselves (while doing some extra study if they choose).

  10. Mycho Silver badge

    Computer illiterate political cheerleaders driving IT policies?

    Still?

  11. busycoder99

    The director of 'year of code'

    is Jen Barber from the IT crowd.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: The director of 'year of code'

      If you can't see either of the two Newsnight videos in the article then here's another version.

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: The director of 'year of code'

      I thought it was some hyperbole for the headline, but she is. She is Jen to the T. I nearly PMSLOL when Paxman asked her "So. What *IS* code?" He must be an IT Crowd fan.

      1. William Towle

        Re: The director of 'year of code'

        > Paxman asked her "So. What *IS* code?" He must be an IT Crowd fan.

        He's read yearofcode.org - "What is code? Code is the language we use to instruct computers".

        In my head, the voice I heard reading that bit out was Philomena Cunk's... ;)

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: The director of 'year of code'

          I liked the segue in her brain from "Coding is really easy. You can make a website in an hour even if you've never done it before" to "I'm the director of a 'teach kids to code' charity, and I plan to at some point in the next year learn how to code". Haven't had a free hour yet I suppose.

  12. Lee D Silver badge

    What I find especially annoying?

    I taught a kid to "code" (i.e. actually program, in a real language) in an afternoon. The next day he came back with a game he wrote.

    Now we're not talking Minecraft or anything here, and he'd never coded properly before (HTML is NOT programming! Even Javascript qualifies, but HTML does not!), and he was a bright kid, but it's really not that hard. And if you have even the vaguest interest in it, you can take such a kick-start and go off into the "real" languages / apps in a matter of weeks. So you'd think that someone in charge of the scheme could do something like, oh I don't know, go to a couple of night-school classes to learn the basics? (This is why my preferred form of government is a meritocracy, by the way)

    A 15-year-old who was primarily interested in business, not IT, comes to me for two weeks of work experience, spends most of the time changing toner and stuff like that, and learns a language in an afternoon (because it was quiet and I had to do something with him), enough to go home and code a game overnight.

    Thus, there is NO excuse why teachers can't code. Nor why the people pushing for coding shouldn't be able to code. Nor why we should HAVE to push coding in the first place (rather than it just being a normal part of the IT curriculum).

    Coding is not hard. But the more you talk about it, and the less you MAKE PEOPLE DO IT, by putting it into the curriculum and hiring people worthy of teaching themselves it so they can teach kids it (which is what ALL your damn teachers should be doing, not crying about not having training or it being hard to teach what they were not taught), the less coders we'll have.

    Which is fine by me. I'm able to code whatever I like, basically, and if it really becomes a rare skill it can only benefit myself (after working in a multitude of schools for 15 years - primary, secondary, sixth form, private and state - I have met one former COBOL programmer turned maths teacher, one guy who could tinker in Pascal, one former network manager / C programmer turned ICT teacher, a multitude of people who think that LT and RT in Logo is the epitome of programming and must be how Microsoft wrote Windows (the latter an opinion it's tempting to share) and THAT IS IT.

    My daughter, though - teach her some damn coding or I'll do it my damn self.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      "(HTML is NOT programming! Even Javascript qualifies, but HTML does not!"

      A couple of points here:

      1) HTML, together with CSS, appears to be Turing complete, so it is programming. It might be a rubbish language, but it can still be programming.

      2) I think the major benefit of programming for children is that it can teach people to take a problem and break it down into small pieces, and then how to logically produce solutions to each small piece. I personally can't code something like Java and C++ beyond the kind of things these kids are going to learn, so had to get my experience with these concepts through abstract mathematics, but it might be easier for children to experience it through something practical like writing a computer program to emulate a set of traffic lights, or something simple like this.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Mushroom

        One of the games I learned to code from involved programming a little kill-bot round an arena. You had directions, a radar and gun.

        You set your bot against others and iirc it could run itself a hundred times pretty quickly to determine who's was the best.

        I loved that game - anyone know what it was?

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          There were millions of those games.

          The first was something like War or Tank or something but there really are millions of them around.

          I've never seen them in school officially, the kids get bored once it's no longer about "coding" and instead about game theory and there's a load of nonsense about violence etc. spouted when you try to mention them.

          Fact is, it's just Logo, which is taught in schools. Left, right, forward, pen up, pen down, and everything else is a programming abstraction to make those functions actually do stuff (e.g. loops, variables, etc. so it draws repeated circles a certain number of times). Had those floor turtles when I was at school, I have no reason to doubt they came about as a "non-violent" way of doing the Tank game in schools. Drawing a race course on a piece of paper and programming the turtle to navigate it was standard fare when I was a kid and half-decent schools still do similar (maybe in a virtual way).

          The problem is that that's called "control" in school, not really programming (think industrial control). Programming is the abstract logic behind what you're trying to do. The loops, the conditions, the patterns. That's NOT delved into in any kind of way. That's what's needed to "win" at the tank game. But that's NOT what is taught.

          Hell, I've seen private schools struggle to teach Logo. We have bigger problems because telling a computer what to do is NOT programming, but that's what curricula and teachers think it is.

          You will not hear the words "loop invariant" (or even an equivalent phrase to explain the concept) in a secondary school programming class. Programming in schools is about giving orders, not making the computer "think".

        2. Robert Moore

          I loved that game - anyone know what it was?

          > One of the games I learned to code from involved programming a little kill-bot round an arena.

          > You had directions, a radar and gun.

          Sounds like Crobots to me.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crobots

        3. Mongo

          @Sir Runcible Spoon - crobots?

          It fits your description neatly - I spent many happy lunchtimes battling co-workers. Here's the original:

          http://www.nyx.net/~tpoindex/crob.html

          The biggest flaw was that in effect it simulated a x86 without a x87 maths coprocessor - floating point ops took too many cycles to be useful. So my proudest creation (carefully probing with the radar, narrowing the beam focus to estimate the enemy's vector then applying elementary calculus to choose the aiming point) was trounced by my boss's "psychorabbit" (it didn't use the radar AT ALL, just moved in random spurts while firing blindly as fast as possible)

          Luckily I'm not bitter. At all. After all, it's over 20 years ago now. Well maybe just a little bitter...

          Even more luckily, there's a shiny NG version here: http://crobots.deepthought.it/home.php

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

            Re: @Sir Runcible Spoon - crobots?

            Thanks for all the links, there are so many variants!

            "Luckily I'm not bitter. At all. After all, it's over 20 years ago now. Well maybe just a little bitter..."

            I felt that way after mastering soul calibur on the dreamcast, only for my wife to come along and beat me by button mashing! I had to work sooooooo hard to work out how to counter her completely irrational moves - something she thought very funny :)

            In the end she moved over to Tekken, and there random button mashing just couldn't be beaten - so she had the last laugh :)

            I got my wife into gaming by letting her play DuneII back in the day - she became addicted and eventually posted an emperor scrore that I just couldn't quite beat - ever :) so she is still the champ at that. Mind you, when we played Zelda (Ocarina) together she would always get me to fight the boss for her because she'd be too scared! Happy days. She's 44 today !

            edit: just found the variant I played..

            http://realtimebattle.sourceforge.net/

        4. toxicdragon

          The one I go on is robocode, still fairly active too. http://robocode.sourceforge.net/

    2. amanfromarse

      >I taught a kid to "code" (i.e. actually program, in a real language) in an afternoon. The next day he came back with a game he wrote.

      I don't believe you. What was the language? What did the game do?

      Programming *is* hard.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The Meritocracy IS The Problem

      You need to read 'The Rise of the Meritocracy' by Michael Young.

      Here is what Michael had to say about people (Tony Blair in particular) using the phrase he coined back in 1958

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Meritocracy IS The Problem

        A link would be handy wouldn't it !

        http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2001/jun/29/comment

  13. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Mushroom

    "a skill as vital as reading writing and maths - and could be learned in a day"

    Coding learned in a day? Such a statement clearly shows she hasn't got a clue about coding. Anyway, how can you claim that a skill can be learned in a day when you yourself haven't?

    She clearly doesn't even know what an ID10T error is (or PEBCAK situation, for that matter).

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: "a skill as vital as reading writing and maths - and could be learned in a day"

      I like to call them IO problems. Incompetent Operator.

    2. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: "a skill as vital as reading writing and maths - and could be learned in a day"

      She changes her mind a lot, she says you can learn from scratch to "code a website" (whatever THAT means) in 1 hour, and that you can train someone to teach "coding" in one day.

      One day!

      1. Mongo

        Re: "one day!"

        Maybe she means it in the colloquial sense of "some day" ? That actually makes sense: some day we'll really know how to train people in teaching (rather than much of it being down to synchronicity, good luck, and intangible brain kinks - actually rather like the algorithm for developing great software engineers...)

  14. scrubber

    Which language? Single or multi-threaded?

    Writing a page of HTML is to code as painting my wall is to the Mona Lisa.

  15. Scott Broukell
    Meh

    Garbage in garbage out

    Programming is breaking a given process down into logical steps and writing a sequence of instructions to emulate the process in a program language of your choice. When I studied 'puters we spent months doing stuff long-hand on paper with pencils and rubbers and learned to debug our routines with the grey matter in our skulls. Only when we could demonstrate the most refined, or thereabouts, logic and code skills were we allowed a time-slot to access the main frame. But I imagine there is very little in what I describe to attract today's students to such activities - they want to be quickly and easily rewarded with flashy graphics and bright lights. Many years later I remember chuckling to myself playing with Pascal 'Turtles', controlling mechanical parts directly, using CRT monitors and with more languages than I could shake a stick at.

    So please, teach them about logic first, then introduce the fun part of making their written instructions actually do things in the real world and don't teach them to just make web shites - those that wish to construct HTML will gravitate towards that of their own accord later.

    Note to Teachers - it can even be a cross-curricula activity as well you know, so as to broaden the scope and areas of application and to encourage as many pupils as possible.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Garbage in garbage out

      FFS, I started it at school back in 1980 on PET 4032 & 2001s. We all did "computer studies", even the thickie sets. Input>Process>Output, Jacquard looms, ferrite cores, paper tape, punched card, transistors, binary, Boolean logic, ICs, flow charting,, LOGO, BASIC, FORTRAN...

      And then Microsoft came along a few years later with Windows and Office, and "Computer Studies" became more about using Word than actually HOW the machines worked and HOW you go about writing programs.

  16. Winkypop Silver badge
    Megaphone

    "PR chief for the Conservative think-tank"

    Now THERE'S ya problem!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "She completed her history degree in 2010 and formerly worked as the PR chief for the Conservative think-tank founded by Iain Duncan-Smith, the Centre for Social Justice."

    Jobs for the Girls.

  18. Frankee Llonnygog

    Don't just graft 'coding' onto the syllabus

    Make it an integral part.

    I had no interest in, and didn't get, algebra and trigonometry when taught them in maths. When I realised they were useful for pushing pixels around a screen, the concepts somehow all fell into place. There's an intersection between computer science, maths and philosophy that makes coding a wonderfully powerful vector for transmitting all sorts of ideas.

    To just bolt it on as vocational add-on - well, you might as well substitute the word plumbing for coding. And do we need more properly qualified plumbers - absolutely!

  19. Sooty

    Any Idiot can write code

    And many of them frequently make a living as coders.

    You teach can everyone English in school but not everyone who is taught can use it to write something intelligible, programming is exactly the same. You can teach the fundamentals of programming langauges, but it doesn't mean that a lot of the people will actually be able to create anything decent afterwards.

    The main thing isn't teaching people, even kids, how to use a language, it's teaching them to think about what they are actually writing.

  20. Martin Milan

    Oh really?

    So then - people who don't know how to code (the "lead teachers") are going to be given a day's training, and then left to train other people who don't know how to code (the "grunt" teachers), who will in turn be training another group of people who don't know how to code, most of which don't want to code (the kids), to code.

    Yeah - right. Someone ring the emergency services, coz there's one hell of a car crash just around the next bend...

    1. Squander Two

      Re: Oh really?

      Well, this is the problem with the absurd insistence that you can't be a teacher without a teaching degree, which should be seen for the teachers' unions' protectionism it is and abolished. If Stephen Hawking applied for a physics teaching job at a British school, they wouldn't even interview him, because he's not qualified. Allow people who are really good at stuff to teach stuff, and then the schools would simply be able to hire actual programmers to teach programming. This should not be a revolutionary idea.

      1. amanfromarse

        Re: Oh really?

        Seriously, Stephen Hawking? Teaching?

        Knowing a subject doesn't mean you are capable of teaching it.

        Have you ever been to a dev conference? um, ah, mumble, er.. Christ! And that's just few that can bring themselves to speak in public. I wouldn't want any of them teaching my kids.

        How are they going to engage a bunch of disinterested kids an an inner city comp?

        I hear this a lot, 'insert well-known expert here' wouldn't be allowed to teach. But the experts aren't going to want to teach. Without the teaching qualification it would just attract the dregs.

        If someone really wants to teach, then a one-year teaching course isn't going to put them off; it's a safeguard and I'm glad it's there.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oh really?

          Underlying lunacy probably gets spotted when you have to get the qualification, too. Like before the clever and charismatic type starts telling the kids about our lizard overlords, say.

        2. Vic

          Re: Oh really?

          > Knowing a subject doesn't mean you are capable of teaching it.

          I once had a week's skiing lessons with a member of the Italian Olympic ski team.

          She is undoubtedly the best skier I've ever had the privilege to ski with.

          But she was a totally useless teacher. She just didn't get that making us stand still in the cold for 5mins meant the single corner we then made wasn't going to be superb...

          Vic.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh really?

      It may be a clichéd old saw, but it still has a grain of truth:

      Thos who can, do.

      Those who can't, teach.

      Those who can't teach, teach teachers.

  21. Stephen Channell
    FAIL

    a little more effort or truth would be good

    Really, if you're going to take on something like this, you should go to the effort of learning it before pontificating to teachers about how easy it is.. Teachers will need to debug students code, so more tricky

    she could have told the truth: (1) she's a tory flunky filling in before she becomes an MP (2) an experienced person would cost more than the government is prepared to pay (3) there's money to be made selling coding skills to Tory flunkies

  22. Crisp Silver badge

    When I said that I wanted to see more women in IT...

    A clueless idiot like Lottie Dexter was not what I had in mind.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When I said that I wanted to see more women in IT...

      She was exactly what I had in mind, but ...

    2. MrXavia

      Re: When I said that I wanted to see more women in IT...

      She is a pretty face, that is it...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When I said that I wanted to see more women in IT...

      She's a campaign manager, not a coder. I might have github account, I doubt I could do ... whatever a campaing manager does

  23. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The Bigger Picture Way Beyond Puny Remote Command and Earthed Controls

    What you must realise to have any hope of a chance to be able to do anything significant in the current climate that presents the future. And shared here below in the guise of an email which has winged its way to where IT sent it. …. and given what we know and have been told of late of Spooky Intelligence Service Shenanigans, goodness knows wherever else its message is received and being browsed.

    Covert Comic: Question Authority ....... This is no joke realised by really smart folk most probably well versed in the power of a toke :-)

    IT’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World Run for the Insane and Ruled by the Virtually Crazy in the Reign of the Quite Normal and Spooky in Intelligent Communities* … and All for the Mutual Benefit of Declaring Profits to Boost Deficits and Collapse Competition and Create Opposition ……. which is Really More than Just Brilliantly Corrupt and Self-Destructively Perverse, Methinks.

    Time for AIMagicAlly Pleasant Change, Methinks, What say you? :-) [Poe’s Law invoked there:-)]

    * ….. [If in doubt, the questions to ask yourself is ….. Should and can IT be so easily so, and why ever would any idiot savant fool and/or ignorant arrogant blunt tool deny it and prove themselves practically useless and virtually unfit for Future Great Game Purpose and Stellar Terrain Team Leader Ship Play with AIMates ……. Per Ardua ad Astra and Beyond.

    PS … Should we all be using whenever playing Great Games at least a modicum of encryption as provided by certain not unreasonable default applications …. https://gpgtools.org

    If they have back doors for snooping, then they will be vulnerable to all manner of zeroday exploit infestation and program invasion/inversion/reversion/revision/BlackWatchAdVenture.

    Time for a caffeine hit. :-) Have a nice one.

    Great IntelAIgent Game on, El Reg. Wanna Learn how to Lead with RESTful Play at Work and in so doing be able and enabled to report on ITs SMARTR Teachings via such things as these sorts of comments threads which be akin to Virtual Teach-Ins, which be Really Out There?

    1. ToggleMaudlin

      Re: The Bigger Picture Way Beyond Puny Remote Command and Earthed Controls

      It's as if you took the subject line of every mail in my Hotmail Junk folder, circa 2004, and concatenated them into one gloriously incoherent stream of 'wha?'.

  24. Stuart Ball

    <Caveat married to a primary school teacher>

    Adding an additional 2 hours teaching per day, and going from an 0800-1730 hrs (in school plus 2-3 hours marking & planning per evening) to an 0700-1900 day for a teacher would MASSIVELY put up teaching costs, because you would need to have, certainly in primary education where most of the important skills are learnt, 2 teachers, and a doubling of teaching assistants, per class to cover the day.

    Which would double your manpower costs to deliver primary education.

    Also I have children aged 5 & 7, who do afterschool clubs at the moment because Mrs B and I both work, so they are out the house 8-1730 as it is, however the afterschool bit is time for them to socialise and play with "friends" who also go to afterschool club.

    It's the last week before half term, and they are knackered, and need the holiday to blow off steam and relax. Formalising the school day to 8-1700 and you'd need shorter half terms to allow the children to manage.

    At Mrs B's school they have afterschool clubs 3 days a week that parents pay for, which are sports clubs, massively oversubscribed. Mrs B is also (free) Clubs Co-ordinator for her school, and for every place that she manages she has 3 applicants because a large proportion of parents see it as free additional childcare.

    We need to decide if we want schools to be a national childcare service so everyone can contribute to the GDP of the Nation, or whether they want a good quality education service. Private schools spend double per pupil that state schools are paid, the only way we will get a better education system is to spend more per pupil, if state schools are to be compared to private education institutions.

  25. Miek
    Coffee/keyboard

    Wow, a history degree! I have just introduced my coffee to my keyboard.

  26. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Poor darling

    "You can do very little in a short space of time" proudly says she. Very true. But I don't think she actually meant that.

    She also seem to have said she was going to become the new suckerbird or -board or something like that, but I didn't quite catch it...

  27. Jim 59

    "No, I CAN'T write code myself"

    Hearing that on the radio I crossed the room in annoyance to hit the off button.

    And it's not called coding, it is called programming. At this rate, "coding" is going to become a flag word denoting the speaker is dumb.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: "No, I CAN'T write code myself"

      Alas it looks like it will suffer the same fate as 'troll' and 'hack'.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: "No, I CAN'T write code myself"

        I wonder if she can even right click... ;-)

        1. Mycho Silver badge

          Re: "No, I CAN'T write code myself"

          This is where she writes "Click", isn't it?

  28. grumpy feline
    Childcatcher

    Ignore the windbags

    So Lottie and Rohan are all a bit Bong. No surprises. And UK politicians are kicking in a pathetic amount of cash so they can try to catch up. Nothing new there.

    If you look at the real stuff, it is all US driven. Code.org is good. Not great, but certainly better than nothing, and has been going for a few years. The idea that schools will teach our kids to code is pretty laughable at this level of investment, but for those of us who don't abdicate education completely to the state, this stuff is gold. So forget Lottie and the laughable year of code, but check out the stuff they are trying to hang onto the coat-tails of. It's really quite good.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have friends who are designers and accountants who've "learnt to code a a day". What they actually did was copy and paste some javascript into an editor, change some text and "create" a Facebook "app" that was essentially a picture with a caption.

    There are no doubt similar people, perhaps working in PR, who'll say on their CVs that they can "write web codes".

    By then the government will be boasting of its successful initiative, Boris will be congratulating himself on his jolly good tech city and we'll be no better off.

  30. LennyMan
    FAIL

    Yes, we are failing the kids

    I'm a programmer from the old-school of 'teach yourself to code on a Vic-20', and now see my son *wanting* to learn to code but unable to get any support at his school to do so.

    Their idea of ICT is teaching them to write a (poorly designed) webpage in Dreamweaver and make a web-movie, or (and I still can't believe this), how to write a game in Python.

    He has now of his own volition installed Visual Studio on his laptop so he can learn something useful...

    We really need to get our schools to understand that the technologies around programming, web design, media content etc. are moving at such a fast pace that you can't teach from 10-year-old books. There should be more concentration on object orientated programming (.NET, Java, C++ etc.), proper web design (CSS, Javascript/jQuery, HTML5) and underlying data (SQL)

    Even the CIS degree I am doing at the ripe old age of 42 seems very dated when you look at the concepts and coding involved.

  31. Charlie_Manson

    Recently started helping out my local school by running a code club. Perhaps some of the commentors here might like to sign up themselves and teach kids how to code as they are always looking for more volunteers.

    https://www.codeclub.org.uk/

    It starts off with scratch and moves into Python, which i must admit are not my core languages having grown up with a miriad of other languages.

    For example last week I step out of scratch and taught flow charts so next week i can go from a flow chart back to scratch. The week after I'm going to go from flowcharts into a 'specification'. I know it is working in reverse in some senses, but i'm trying to build on things they know they can do in a fun environment and build a solid foundation so they can work out how to do things. Syntax is the language of programming, how you construct the sentence is more important.

    1. P_0

      Re: Yes, we are failing the kids

      ...how to write a game in Python.

      What's wrong with that? That sounds like a good idea to me. Use PyGame (or maybe there is a better library for games now), you can easily teach a kid the core concepts of programming and have fun.

      Also you can write the same game in Visual Studio (C++), with SDL.

    2. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: Yes, we are failing the kids

      Their idea of ICT is teaching them to write a (poorly designed) webpage in Dreamweaver and make a web-movie, or (and I still can't believe this), how to write a game in Python.

      There should be more concentration on object orientated programming (.NET, Java, C++ etc.)

      Hate to tell you this, Python is a real language, perfectly suitable for teaching people how to write a games engine, has proper OOP features and commands good salaries in the industry.

      I couldn't think of a better language in which to start programming. Teach kids C++? Fuck off, teach them python and if they need C++, they can learn C++.

  32. alain williams Silver badge

    Lottie Dexter should be sacked

    Would they appoint as head of the English Tourist Board someone who had never been to the country or even seen a map ? Of course not. However: the numpties who appointed her are so clueless that they could not understand that having some understanding and insight is necessary.

    Pathetic!

    1. Dr?

      Re: Lottie Dexter should be sacked

      Well they did put that pob faced twat Gove in charge of education...

  33. albaleo

    Some things should be left until big school

    I'm not sure primary school is the right place for learning to code or learning other difficult things. At primary school in the 60s, I didn't learn any 'science' except for a single lesson in the final year (more about that below). Yet I often wondered about things in the natural world. For example, I would often wonder whether a ball bearing could be cut in half, or whether it was some indivisible thing. More perversely, I sometimes wondered what I would see if I cut my thumb off. At my first science lesson at secondary, I was told everything was made from atoms. It explained so much of what I didn't know and wondered about. And more importantly, it made sense to me. I don't think I would have appreciated that lesson as much if I'd been told at age 7 that everything was made from atoms.

    The single 'science' lesson we had at primary didn't actually teach or explain anything. Rather, it let us explore some interesting things (which is heavier, water or sand, etc.) The killer thing was being asked whether water could flow uphill, and then being shown how to syphon water from one bucket to another. That sealed things for me, science was more magical than Jesus. :-)

    Rather than being taught how to code, are there not better activities for primary school that would make learning to code at secondary much more understandable and rewarding?

    1. Stuart Ball

      Re: Some things should be left until big school

      Sorry, I was picking up on the "lengthen the school day" rant of an earlier poster.

      Basic programming principles of instruction sets, and process flows can be taught (without the obvious management speak!) using rover robots, or tools like Big Trak.

      You can set up the skills in primary school to later use in a more formal programming environment. Even getting algebra a bigger focus to get the idea of using named variables.

      Probably the most used "coding" skill I use at the moment is complicated formula in Excel, and SQL.

      Understanding databases is taught in primary schools, but it could be done more.....interestingly.

  34. Scott Pedigo

    I Think I Know The Answer To This One

    "So what made Silva choose Lottie Dexter to lead the initiative? It's hard to tell."

    Um, I would rephrase that as "You can tell he's hard."

    He wants to see a lotta Lottie.

    Suits you, sir, suits you!

    Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more.

    1. Havin_it
      IT Angle

      Re: I Think I Know The Answer To This One

      I know you were referencing other comedy shows altogether, but in your post I got an inescapable air of Reynholm (jnr.)

  35. Alan Denman

    Much of it is barking mad

    Complex coding is just a branch of maths logic.

    If the kids ain't yet competent at maths they ain't really going to be coding !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Much of it is barking mad

      As someone who has studied math, logic, and coding, I don't know how anyone can come to the conclusion that coding is any more than tangentially related to the other two, unless you are studying coding as a "science" and proving mathematically that certain code/algorithms are correct, which I've never seen done outside of a classroom. I suppose there are functional/mathematical (lisp) and logical (prolog) programming languages but those are rarely used in practice, at least in my experience.

  36. Nasty Nick

    Why should we think...

    That this government can make teaching code work better than any other educational endevour which they already manage, badly. UK governments over the last 40 years have all made a complete hash of education policy, sadly it just seems to get worse with each new lot voted in.

    Evidence based policy making (EBP) is an interesting development that might help goverments make better policies, which can only (?) be a good thing, regardless of whether they are Labour Tory, Libs etc.

    They would have to think through the implications of the policy and how it would work in practice (things like how much money and time it would take to impliment the policy effectively, what kind of person is likely to best suited to managing the implementation of the policy).

    In theory, UK governments are already signed up to EBP, we promote it to developing countries. Sadly, but predicatably, our governments are only likely use EBP where the answers produced fit their agendas. Do as we say, not as we do...

  37. Truth4u

    From novice to teacher in one day?

    Can't be good to have all these novices running around thinking they're experts.

    It's business as usual for most schools though.

  38. codejunky Silver badge

    Wow

    Just wow. What complete ignorance and insanity

  39. Nigel Whitfield.

    See that bandwagon ...

    Let's all go jump on it. Yes, programming is important (one of the reasons I studied it at IC), and it should be taught rather better than it has been - but most especially to the students who have the aptitude.

    I honestly can't quite grasp this idea that because computers are everywhere, everyone must learn how to program them. It seems to me a bit like saying that because TVs are ubiquitous, everyone must learn how to direct.

    Yes, learning to programme can teach problem solving skills, but there are other ways to teach those too, which may well reach some people who have no desire to learn to code. And ultimately, some people will be better served by learning different skills, rather than programming.

    How about a year of UX? Arguably, that could make just as big a difference as coding, couldn't it? That people still need to be aware of which physical or logical device they clicked on when writing a letter to a gas board seems bizarre, frankly.

    This whole thing really smacks not so much of actually caring about what kids learn at school - if that were the case, they might, for example, make foreign languages more prominent - but of a quick simple way of looking like Something Is Being Done. "Oh look, apps are popular and in the news a lot. Apps are made with code. Let's teach children to code; it's bound to help the international league tables"

  40. Scott 62

    How is she the Directory of anything at 23 years old?

    Nothing to do her being easy on the eyes, presumably?

    At that age I could just about direct myself to the pub and back. But then again maybe that's why I "only" work in IT and I'm not a captain of industry or a politician.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: How is she the Directory of anything at 23 years old?

      Definitely nothing to do with her brains or ability, she certainly doesn't come across (either on Paxman or on LinkedIn) as another Karen Brady (she became managing director of Birmingham City F.C. aged 23).

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: How is she the Directory of anything at 23 years old?

        She is blond, ambitious, reasonably arrogant and safely ignorant of the subject involved - that is all that is required for a Government celebrity poster-girl. She'll do a few months until all the bruhaha dies down and the thing is quietly dropped, then move on - a "Director" line on her CV and a bright political future (if she manages to keep things quiet and without obvious scandals).

        Knowledgeable people are a liability in such political assignments and when you have someone who knows what they are talking about and actually cares for the cause, they tend to go "off message" and break ranks too easily, while someone like her will just sing the party song.

        1. Snark

          Re: How is she the Directory of anything at 23 years old?

          It's amazing how the government can simultaneously make a stab at setting back both peoples perception of "coding" and also of women in IT in one go. That interview is quite astounding.

  41. bigtimehustler

    The biggest nonsense is her spouting that coding knowledge is required to understand and progress in the world and then she admits she can not do this, so is she admitting she doesnt understand the world? In which case, why is she in any leadership position, let alone one involving the very subject she has no knowledge of.

    It is ok to say you don't have to be a specialist to lead from the top, but you have to know enough to be able to tell when you are being told bullshit and when you are not. She does not know enough to be able to tell this.

    It is appointments like this that are the root problem of all government plans for everything, not just this.

  42. Peter Simpson 1
    Childcatcher

    My first coding class

    My mom signed me up for a summer school class. Learned all I needed to learn, taught myself the rest. There's no need to displace Readin', Writin' or 'rithmetic to make room for a coding class. It's quite easy for them to pick it up during summer holidays or after school, if they're so inclined.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can they not find someone who knows what they are talking about to lead this sort of thing? Where are this persons qualifications? She didn't seriously say that you can learn to teach this *mount fecking everest* of a subject in a day? Please tell me I misheard that? Jesus! It's like saying 'You can learn to teach French in a day!' Of course you bloody cant, unless you are just teaching the phrase 'can i please have half a kilo of sausages'. FFS! My kingdom for one person connected to the government who knows what they are talking about! Arrgh!

  44. Skizz

    Oh, FFS!

    Firstly, writing HTML is not coding!

    Secondly, if Tech City is desperate for coders, how come none of my applications have ever got through to them, after all I've 30+ years of coding experience! Oh wait, is it because I've not got .Net 4 on my CV but only .Net 3.5? (OK, that's more a gripe aimed at so recruitment agencies.)

    As for 'Code in an international language' - hah, ever tried to decode variable names written in Spanish or French or whatever?

    "How long to teach how to teach coding?"

    "Pick it up in a day"

    aaaarrrgggghhhhhhhhhh

    I might know how to speak and write English but I'm not going to create works like Shakespeare. Syntax is easy, coding is hard! Just see the Q's on Stackoverflow from users with 1 rep point.

    I did find the bit from 0:45 onwards very funny:

    voice over: "presented with baffling computer commands"

    on screen: if (distance < radius) { } else { } //END if statement

    What I find most annoying about all this is how it's going to devalue my career with an influx of kids that know very little about 'coding'.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: Oh, FFS!

      "voice over: "presented with baffling computer commands"

      on screen: if (distance < radius) { } else { } //END if statement"

      I, for one, was also completely baffled by it...

      1. bigtimehustler

        Re: Oh, FFS!

        If I actually saw this in a real life computer programme, id think the coder was smoking crack when they wrote it. The way you teach programming is a separation of theory from practical examples. Not a half arsed miss match of the two, perhaps showing why you would do this with a worked example in the if and else blocks would be more sensible than seeing it written as is, which is total nonsense.

    2. Irony Deficient

      Code in an international language

      Skizz, for an interesting take on the Sieve of Eratosthenes, see here.

  45. tony72

    So what made Silva choose Lottie Dexter to lead the initiative?

    "So what made Silva choose Lottie Dexter to lead the initiative? It's hard to tell."

    No, no it's not.

    1. John G Imrie Silver badge
      Trollface

      No, no it's not.

      But apparently it is hard

  46. Grease Monkey

    Puzzled

    Back when I went to high school almost forty years ago programming (as coding was called then :p) was taught. When did it stop being taught in schools? Shirley that's a massive backward step.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    She would be able to code a little if it wasn't for Labour and its "suck up to Microsoft" strategy.

  48. Triggerfish

    There just isn't enough time in the day

    to upvote every cynical comment on here about meddling CEO and board level numpties.

  49. Gareth Wright

    You can learn code a website in an hour?

    Well, I'll just quit web design then. Obviously she has the wherewithal to take on all my clients.

  50. MrXavia
    Facepalm

    So she is a pretty face for a stupid policy... Yes you could do a website in 1 hour, the hello world of websites...

    If your to code properly you need to learn so much more than just a few lines to do things..

    yes teach kids coding, but start when they are 9/10/11, when they can already type/read/write...

    My son could do that at 5 but most in his class could barely read at 5....

    1. Havin_it
  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Your poor children; why don't you teach them programming instead of coddling "coding".

    A web site in a hour, "from scratch" :P

    <html><body><p>Hello Internets</p></body></html>

    1. Sooty
      Mushroom

      Don't you just write a normal word document and 'save as webpage'

  52. MissingSecurity

    We should probably...

    ...start with problem solving and logic as it relates to computers but that would be useful information.

  53. sorry, what?

    JavaScript is code...

    But it isn't the only form and really should not be the language used for teaching because of its strange inconsistencies with scoping.

    HTML is not code - it is markup. CSS is similarly not code. Code implies behaviour, logic, execution.

    I learned programming first in Basic V on Prime then in RML and BBC Basics. These simple Von Neumann languages teach logic and execution quickly. Once mastered then move on to Object Oriented languages and their specific idiom.

    1. Rick Giles
      Linux

      Re: JavaScript is code...

      "HTML is not code - it is markup. CSS is similarly not code. Code implies behaviour, logic, execution."

      C++ and Python get my vote for being taught. And taught on Linux, not that Windows horseshit...

      1. amanfromarse

        Re: JavaScript is code...

        Python, yes.

        >>If you have an object of type T that you have dynamically allocated and you push a pointer to the object onto a std::vector<T*>, then a copy of the pointer is pushed. If you dereference the pointer and push the result onto a std::vector<T>, then a copy of the object is made. Collections always make copies. So collections of pointers make copies of the pointer and collections of class instances make copies of the instances themselves (using copy construction IIRC).

        Realising this, years before SO, and before the STL made it into the standard library, made me quit C++. There was nothing in the STL documentation that suggested this was the case.

        So C++, no.

  54. Neil Stansbury

    She's right about one thing...

    @5:48 in the video

    "Well you can do very little in a short space of time"

    She right you know, not much gets passed these "coders" does it.

  55. Rick Giles
    Trollface

    Sorted

    <html>

    <body>

    <h1>

    Hi there!

    </h1>

    </body>

    </html>

    Took no time at all. Where's me large cheque?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. burntnorton

      Re: Sorted

      That might be the quality of coding need to pass the module I fear

  56. Christopher Michaelis

    "Could be learned in a day"

    See http://abstrusegoose.com/strips/ars_longa_vita_brevis.PNG

  57. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Hazy vision of what "code" is. Hazy goal.

    Not a recipe for success, but I'll keep me fingers crossed.

    It is a bit depressing that Paxman didn't know enough to realize "People need to be able to code" is functionally as diffuse as "People need to do science". Even worse that the proponent droid didn't have any idea of what she was blithering about. You'd think there would have been a couple of hours swotting over a Dummies book before going on camera.

    Would have been nice to hear her come back to the Mandarin curveball with "They are not mutually exclusive fields of learning. The kids could have instruction in both."

    Alternatively: "If the coding thing works as planned we'll get all the jobs back from China and they'll have to learn English again. Bwa-ha-ha."

    Oh well. At least someone has learned that you can't head up a tech initiative without knowing the first thing about the tech. Even those managers one commentator mentions probably understood enough to converse with the underlings coherently.

  58. OzBob

    The Royal Society Christmas Lectures on computers

    Remember those from a few years ago? they were brilliant in showing counting, programming principles etc. They should task the producers of that program with teaching coding.

    1. Snark

      Re: The Royal Society Christmas Lectures on computers

      Most definitely... Or just go back to the BBC's The Computer Programme. That inspired these things to be interesting!

  59. Ben 54

    QUOTE: and could be learned in a day.

    Soooooo, why can't she code then if it can be learned in a day?

    1. Snark
      Coat

      Re: QUOTE: and could be learned in a day.

      She was being very very busy choosing a nice dress and makeup for her TV appearance.

    2. Tyrion

      Re: QUOTE: and could be learned in a day.

      >> Soooooo, why can't she code then if it can be learned in a day?

      Politicians don't actually do anything. And that's what she is. It's just another money making scheme to scam the taxpayer.

  60. LaunchpadBS
    Flame

    Hands up?

    If you've ever wanted to down tools, walk out, and leave management to see just how 'easy' it is to write 'a few lines of code'

  61. MrE
    Childcatcher

    Bring back the ZX Spectrum and manual!

    Cheap and cheerful, easy basic, assembly instruction reference in book for advanced machine code, fixed development platform and the ability to give a real appreciation of the need to backup.

  62. Getriebe

    I'll be reporting myself to HR in a few seconds

    I saw that interview late on iPlayer and thought what a poor example of a leader in a bunch of poor leaders associated with government. Her failing was that she did not grasp the big picture and what industry in the round needs. Not being able to code by itself is not so much of a problem, she should at least lean something to understand the terms and difficulties, but what she lacked was the leadership and any clarity of vision - which to me is a fatal flaw and means under her this will be a failure

    Who is she? Some apparatchik from 'call me Dave's ' token women collective?

    1. Zack Mollusc
      Coat

      Re: I'll be reporting myself to HR in a few seconds

      Surely 'Apparatchick'? Because she is female and attractive? Geddit?

      Ok, I am going....

  63. butigy

    Doh

    It is really important that people learn how computers work, even if it doesn't ultimately form part of their day job. I'm not sure I'd start with HTML and jQuery as shown in the video accompanying this story, but then perhaps other people wouldn't be quite so interested as me in grammar classes and Von Neumann architecture - but that's where I'd start. And types of computer language, files, databases, big data, communications, security, encryption, data protection / personal data. You can debate what to put in here. The key for me, is what a crying shame this scheme is run by somebody who has no clue about the subject matter. Coding expert? Not required. Half a sausage on the barbecue? Essential.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Decisions like this only highlight how brilliant and insightful our political class is.

    If only the shackles of the EU were removed, our talented and inspired politicians would be free to extend such brilliance in governance to every aspect of our lives.

  65. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Argh!!!

    Coding is like playing the violin. It's something innate, and forcing all kids to do it results in 99% of them being utterly crap and frustrated, and is bordering on the sort of child abuse that that women in Saturday's Guardian revels in inflicting on her children.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dismal Performance

    I too saw this dismal interview. It was insulting that the interviewee thought that outcomes just within the grasp of new CS graduates equated with sub GCSE.

    From many years experience of teaching undergraduates to write code, I know that many under graduates fail in programming because they have difficulty in formulating ideas clearly, then communicating them in clear language. My advice is frequently to explain what they are trying to do, as a sequence, and in language that could be understood by a five year old. Then to comment the listing in clear English before writing code. Programming requires natural language skills, and is best learned in application. Teaching programming should not be at the expense of the core curriculum.

    Providing students have the enabling skills, rudimentary programming in C/Java/Pascal etc can be taught in about 24 hours contact.

  67. Fred 18

    Idiot

  68. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    I have a suggestion...

    To make schoolchildren want to learn computer programming

    - make computer programming by any person below the age of 18 illegal.

    - launch a school information campaign about the dangers of computer programming.

    - spread rumours that being seen illegally programming a PC makes one look sexy and dangerous (totally below the belt, I know but, hey...)

    wait 6 months - success!

  69. Richard Cranium

    Don't teach, inspire.

    It seems like a weekly event for a politician or self proclaimed "expert" to propose we solve a problem by adding it to the school curriculum.

    My proposal, is that in order to fulfil all those aspirations, we expand the school week to 168 hours.

    That may hit the odd stumbling block so let's take another look at the situation.

    None of us can be an expert at everything. The interviewee naively suggested that if she knew a bit about programming she could save money by creating her own web site - that's exactly why there are so many rubbish websites out there. The good ones are created by a team each member of which will be an expert in their own aspect of web design, css, javascript, jquery, PHP, graphics design, copywriting, SEO, legal issues and much much more...

    Better to explain to that there are experts, use them and choose your own field in which to become an expert (and perhaps command a good salary). I could do that appendectomy for you, I've got a sharp knife, needle and thread, I know roughly where to cut and what I'm looking for (dissected a rat at school, anatomically quite similar) - no takers? You'd prefer a trained experienced surgeon? Yes but in the USA the cost ranges from USD1500 to USD180000, I'll only charge USD100. You still aren't convinced are you?

    Many experts started out on their subject as the result of some kind of inspirational moment, event, person, teacher. We need to expose kids to the widest range of stimuli with the aim of inspiring some. Ben Garrod was interviewed on the radio today. When he was a kid an art teacher gave him a sheep's skull to draw. He was so overwhelmed with its beauty, complexity, function that he didn't draw it but spent the time examining it. That set him on a course to become an expert in bones and skeletons. Don't miss his TV series starting on BBC4 8:30pm Tue 18 Feb.

    The world doesn't need many bone experts. We do need plenty of computer experts but how many? I have no idea but let's say 1%? So we bore the other 99% with enforced lessons on something they'll never need? We'll not get those future experts by school lessons taught by a teacher who's read a book, had a one day course but has no real life IT experience or skill and scant understanding. We could get them by exposing them to inspirational expert practitioners who give them a whiff of the possibilities - that will stimulate those with an interest and aptitude to quickly streak way ahead of what any school teacher could ever hope to achieve - just as happenned with the Sinclair and BBC computers in the early 1980s.

  70. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Holmes

    I can't code

    I can script a bit and I can debug/review someone elses code, but the last time I had to compile code was in university. I've had quite a successful IT career since.

  71. burntnorton

    Usual Government Failure - led by idiots in shiny suits

    Again those that cant do - manage those who sadly can, and that mentality is the problem, the idea the woman leading this initiative cant code is a total indightment of the governments recruiting and selection process in favour of some PC bullshit, and the idea she has the delusion of being the next zuckerberg - complete fantasy. Absurd - such revolutions will never be a success, unless led by experienced coders themselves who have a gift for metaphor and teaching as well, the idea you can hand it off as a management task to a non coder - is crass and precisely why its a problem in the first place, the government will never learn. The idea you can learn to code a useful website in a day is rubbish, spouted by idiots, 500,000 to train 150,000 teachers ? crap. Just working your way round a web server with php and mysql setup on it takes longer than that initially, It is not until your on your fifth real world site or program, you even getting close to beginning to understand coding. The important thing as per usual it so select the write language to learn int the first place. Secondarily where is the fundamental understanding of hardware in the curriculum to back this coding knowledge up ? its all black box.

  72. Emma Mulqueeny

    I did not resign, I quit

    I really relate to the post here, really well put! My crossness clouded my ability to word things properly, so thank you.

    I did not resign, I quit. No nisi just straight to absolut

    As it stands I won't put my name, brand or support behind this Index Ventures/government/confused farce. If they actually say what they represent, what their plans are and so on, awesome. Then it becomes better.

    But I have been in this world for the last six years, dedicated to it, and I have changed my mind about four times. Currently I think that kids under the age of 12 should be taught logic and computational thinking. Then in senior school the options to study app building/game-making/website design plus all the surrounding skills, spitting out self-selected front and back end programmers who might otherwise have no even though about it. Plus some kids who can argue a logical debate but not code.

    However, the website still has my Young Rewired State brand on it, although they have removed my name. Stop using my brand to prop up your ill-informed *venture*

  73. Emma Mulqueeny

    Sarah Palin of Code

    Can I please just clarify, I have no issue with Lottie Dexter not being able to code, that is not an issue. I can’t code. Well, not the way people code nowadays – BBC Basic was what I was brought up on, by a Father who was obsessed with computers and educational software in the 80s!! I did not choose to take this as a career path, but I do understand it! The issue is that she has not done enough research, has not been properly briefed, does not have the stories, passion or experience (yet) to be the right person for this. The Sarah Palin of Code. But it is not the coding thing, that is not the issue. Nor am I suggesting that I am right for it! I have a full time job, this is not that. It is the actual harm this confusion is causing, and it really has to end.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sarah Palin of Code

      I admire Lottie Dexter, especiually in contrast to my own daughter of the same age, who wasted four years taking a Computer Science degree and who has now to learn to program commercially within six months!

      I did my turn both as (university) first year tutor, and admissions tutor, and worked very hard to bring more students, especially women, who were separately quantified as under represented, into engineering (including computing) education. This work included fundamental research into perceptions both of employers, and school students, regarding engineering careers and the match of school student expectations. We had good school access through a scheme which involved our undergraduates in classroom mentoring. Interestingly, school student attitudes were positive and reasonably accurate. What was lacking was academic confidence, and I put that down to the effects of the National Curriculum.

      One comment cynically intended, and sometimes repeated, was to question "Why waste years qualifying as an engineer, when you can take a PPE/accountancy degree, and become their manager? The appointment of a new graduate in Politics to head the Year of Code initiative, removes any remaining doubt!

      Out of interest, I checked the content of Politics curricula, and found them to be far more focussed than the engineering degrees that I experienced both as curriculum developer, and as student. During my final undergraduate year, I had to study modules in law, management, accountancy, and sociology. Delivery was by senior academics in those subjects. We were more broadly educated than the politicians! The main advantage that I see in including programming in the school curricula is that it will introduce students to a subject that is demanding in that success in outcome is clearly obvious - or not. It will expose students to the systems thinking that is clearly lacking amongst the political class

      Since a Politics degree has become regarded as a vocational route to a career of political influence, I suggest that the Year of Code team impart the qualities that they expouse, top down, starting by encouraging the inclusion of sufficient "hard" technology within politics (and PPE) programmes to enable graduates to understand the issues they seek to control - environment, energy, materials, and now "coding". All, within the the context of a systems approach.

  74. Tyrion
    Stop

    Waste of Time

    I cringed at that video. They're all completely clueless.

    There was one guy who knew what he was talking about, the young blond haired guy. It's about relevancy. Schools mostly teach things without practical application, relevancy, or a sense of discovery. It's all premeditated, irrelevant, overprescribed, and teaching for the sake of teaching.

    Just look at the language they're teaching - HTML / Javascript / JQuery. Completely irrelevant for kids. They won't teach them the grammar, how memory works, or any of the important stuff. Just some random nonsense that no one will remember. Just like most subjects in school I guess.

  75. Brian Allan

    Wow, No One in the Whole UK Capable of Coding!!

    Looks like the UK has a problem? No one in the whole country capable of coding let alone teaching anyone else to code! Wow, didn't know my mother country was so totally medieval!?

  76. AbeSapian

    Every Child Left Behind

    This smacks of our own misguided No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) emphasis on education. For us in the U.S., NCLB has been an unmitigated disaster for education and an assault (IMHO) on the ability of students ordinary means to assume leadership positions in government and business by depriving them of social and historical background needed to put society and technology in context with human needs and goals.

    NCLB focuses on science, math, and engineering while sacrificing the arts and social studies. It creates worker bees that can operate the machinery of business, but lack the context necessary to decide policy.

    It is the single worst thing we have done to our children. It virtually unravels the gains made by end of slavery and the establishment of child labor laws.

  77. Inachu

    Box yourselves in

    A good coder will have his box of codes that he/she/they refer to as a tollbox.

    That coder will refer to their toolbox often for most often used tools to make his coding easier.

    Case in point this so called non coder does not even have a toolbox!

    What a shame! People like that should never be hired for coding jobs but it happens all the time.

    #shame #insulttocodingindustry

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