computing science is often taught by non-specialist teachers because of the lack of dedicated staff, and as a result of reduced provision much of the curricu- lum is “boring”. He says also that this “state of

affairs” is not aligned to Scot- land’s future economic needs, given that there is already a demand for 13,000 tech profes- sionals annually who can com- mand salaries 26 per cent above the average. His solution is that computing science is taught from the first year of secondary school, “with the same focus as maths or physics”. In response, Scotland’s profes-

sional teaching standards and registration body signalled a willingness to engage with the tech sector following the Logan report. Te General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) said it would be happy to take part in a debate about how the curricu- lum could be reformed in line with his recommendations. Dr Pauline Stephen, director of

education, registration and pro- fessional learning at GTCS, said that she welcomed the report but also said that any proposal to increase the role for computing science at secondary level should be part of a wider discussion on curriculum reform. “I think the more fundamental question rather than how we review the place of computing science in the curriculum, is how the cur- riculum is designed. Tere was a national debate 17 years ago and out of that popped Curriculum for Excellence. “Arguably with the experience

we’ve had in lockdown and with children learning in different ways and a whole variety of views about the success of that, there is now an opportunity to have a fundamental conversa- tion about what the curriculum is for.” She added: “If we’re going

to revisit what that’s about it’s more than just an economic driver isn’t it? I think there’s a question about curriculum de-

sign and where does the place of digital pedagogy and computing science sit in there.”

Asked whether she would be open to dialogue with the tech sector in relation to the Logan recommendations, Stephen said: “Absolutely, this is the kind of conversation we need to have and not everyone will agree on everything, and that’s ok. Tese are the kinds of debates we need to have. Education, what’s it for? And how do we do it? And I think now is the time.” However, she cautioned that

there is always a balancing act to be struck when competing groups of people seek to advance their own agenda – whether it be to enhance the provision of modern languages or the arts in the curriculum, adding: “From a teacher’s point of view it begins to feel as though subjects are shoehorned into this overall thing that we call the curriculum – I think there’s probably a better way of doing it.”

She added: “Te Scottish

Government’s review comes at a pivotal point in time as our reliance, as a society, on technol- ogy has surged in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. It also comes at a time when the educa- tional landscape is evolving, and so the teaching and learning – for example, digital pedagogies and opportunities to develop coding skills – must also evolve to meet the needs of children and young people. “Over recent years, a number

of alternative routes into initial teacher education (ITE) have de- veloped, some of which focus on encouraging those in STEM-relat- ed careers to consider a career in teaching, and some of which have combined ITE and probation peri- ods to streamline the process. “GTC Scotland looks forward to

discussing this further with our partners in education, in particu- lar to explore where this can lead to greater numbers of comput- ing science students considering teaching as a career.” l

Public libraries fly the flag for digital participation

Scotland’s public libraries have been flying the flag for digital in- clusion and participation for many years. Te introduction of Ambi- tion and Opportunity, the first na- tional strategy for libraries, in 2015, allowed for a national approach to service improvement with the roll out of public access wi-fi at all Scottish sites, gifting of 3D printers to every service and training across a number of areas including coding which led to the inception of over 100 clubs for children. Library staff have long been

aware of those in their commu- nities who are lacking the basic digital skills they need not only to succeed, but increasingly to func- tion in modern society. Libraries

are warm and safe and their staff won’t judge or place expectation on visitors. Tis has been brought even more

sharply into focus by the unprec- edented events of 2020. Libraries closed their physical spaces whilst pivoting quickly to an increased and inventive digital offer. E-resource collections were ex-

panded; rhyme-time sessions for families were filmed and posted online; techy tea breaks, Lego clubs, book groups and crafting circles quickly found a home on social media. Online borrowing use increased by over 100 per cent in many areas as those already feeling excluded were isolated further and left behind.

Scotland’s libraries are looking to the future with technology Libraries saw 47 million visitors

in Scotland last year, they are well placed to support those most in need, as well as to support those who want to progress and innovate. Recognition of the role they play; the regard they are held in by their users; and the suc- cessful track record they hold in partnership delivery are all key to the success. With the right investment, the future role libraries play in digital

participation and innovation looks bright. Te doors may not be open as wide as they were due to the pandemic, but the library community is ready to respond and create to reach those who need us now more than ever. l

FUTURESCOT | WINTER 2020/21 | 57

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