3D printing and coding to become "standard" in schools

National curriculum revisions see kids as young as five learning to code

Shona Ghosh
8 Jul 2013

Pupils as young as five will learn how to create software, under revisions to the national curriculum that may also introduce 3D printers to classrooms.

Education secretary Michael Gove has published the final draft of the new curriculum, set to be adopted from September next year - though independent schools, academies and free schools are all free to ignore it.

The new program sees major changes to design and technology, including the use of 3D printers for older pupils. They will also learn about robotics and manufacturing, while students as young as five-years-old will learn how to code and test applications.

Combined with the introduction of programming, it is a big step forward from Labour's dumbed-down curriculum

"Three-dimensional printers will become standard in our schools – a technology that is transforming manufacturing and the economy," a source close to the plans told The Guardian. "Combined with the introduction of programming, it is a big step forward from Labour's dumbed-down curriculum."

Prime Minister David Cameron said the changes were driven by a "global race" to stay competitive in a world increasingly led by technology.

"The curriculum marks a new chapter in British education," he said. "From advanced fractions to computer coding to some of the greatest works of literature in the English language, this is a curriculum that is rigorous, engaging and tough."

"This is a curriculum to inspire a generation - and it will educate the great British engineers scientists writers and thinkers of the future," he added.

IT shortage

The changes are partially a response to warnings that the UK and the EU are facing a shortage of skilled IT workers.

The EU warned last year that a shortfall in skills could worsen youth unemployment in Europe, noting that students lacked basic digital skills to get them the best jobs.

A report from jobs site Adzuna earlier this year also found that London tech firms were suffering from a severe lack of skilled workers, with companies hiking up salaries to keep hold of staff.

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