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EDUCATION & SKILLS Continued from Page 55


the case for computing science being given greater prominence in the secondary school curricu- lum. His report emphasised how “boring” the subject can often become when taught in schools, and how it was turning kids off.


At Digital Scotland, the annual public sector digital and data conference, he said: “Today in our schools we treat computing science somewhat as a second- ary subject and we don’t really treat it in earnest until third year as an option in many, many schools. “So, by then we’ve lost a lot of


opportunity to spark children’s interest in the whole domain. And by then we have already crystallised the appalling gender exclusion that goes on in tech today and when we get into the fifth year at school, we’ve got a participation rate amongst girls of 16 per cent on average. If we can reverse all of that, if we can


treat computing science as an important a subject as physics and mathematics for example, if we can be teaching that ideally in primary school in a form ap- propriate to children at that age, then we can change a lot of that. Tat’s why it’s important.” Logan said that unless we


change our approach, we risk not having sufficient graduate software engineers and tech en- trepreneurs to sustain Scotland’s long-term digital ambition. He added: “When we get later


into other areas of education such as university where we have technical undergraduates, we’d love to equip them to be entrepreneurial but it’s all foun- dational on what we do to spark those young people’s interest.” He said: “We have a second


problem today in Scotland where those children who are inter- ested and who do take subjects in computing science, too often after they have studied that sub- ject, they don’t like it anymore and that tells us that we’re doing


Mark Logan, author of the Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review,


speaking at Digital Scotland


something wrong in that peda- gogy. “So, we’ve got a number of


challenges there, and I think they’re all addressable, but it’s vital that we understand that although we can do near-term changes and have tech scalers and market squares [where ideas and knowledge can be exchanged], if we don’t also at the same time address the supply issue then all that later work is undermined.”


Logan’s addendum report was not commissioned by ministers, but it is currently with the Scottish


Government; in addition to the supplementary work he has also held a dialogue with Education Scotland and the exams body the SQA. He has also recruited the support of the tech industry in the form of the tech trade body ScotlandIS and the volunteer group the Scottish Tech Army, which was established as a busi- ness-led response to Covid-19. In sections of the report Mr


Logan is at times frank about the current failings of the education sector to adequately serve the tech economy; he describes an unsatisfactory situation whereby


Colleges will play a vital role in the nation’s digital future


BY AUDREY CUMBERFORD


When Edinburgh College was setting out its Digital Strat- egy 2020-25, we couldn’t have anticipated quite how soon our overarching ambition of ‘becom- ing a High Performing Digital College’ would need to become a reality. Prior to the pandemic,


technology was already having a profound impact on almost every aspect of our college. Tat impact has increased at an exponential rate since March when colleges across Scotland were required to pivot from face- to-face on-campus and in-work delivery, business support and operations, to a fully remote model. Whilst adapting to the new


ways of delivering life changing education and training online, our college’s role in upskilling and reskilling people was also catapulted to new heights as we continued to provide support to businesses in our region - including those that have been hardest hit by the economic downturn. Prior to the pandemic, I co-


authored a report highlighting the place of colleges in Scotland’s current and future economic landscape. What is clear is that our college now has an even bigger role to play in providing opportunities to individuals and businesses in Scotland’s capital as we continue to navigate our way through and, eventually, out the other side of this pandemic. As the number of unemployed


56 | FUTURESCOT | WINTER 2020/21


people in Scotland is expected to rise significantly over the coming months, a skills-led economic recovery will be key as we aim to ‘build back better’ from Covid-19. Trough working collaboratively with govern- ment, industry and educational partners to build on the innova- tive work already undertaken in 2020, Edinburgh College is sharpening its focus on utilising technology to provide educa- tion and training opportunities across the region and to deliver even more for our people, em- ployers and communities. l


Audrey Cumberford MBE FRSE Edinburgh College Principal and CEO


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