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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-10505: Tavish Scott (Shetland Islands)

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Date lodged: 27 July 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what projects it has introduced to encourage coding in schools.

Answered by: John Swinney 11 August 2017

Throughout education, the Government and its partner bodies are working to equip all young people with the digital skills they need to thrive in modern society and the workplace, from basic digital literacy through to more specialised computing science disciplines, including the computational thinking and technical skills required in software development and coding.

The Government’s Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy, along with our draft STEM Strategy, seek to embed the use of technology in learning and teaching right across the curriculum, providing a foundation for digital skills development. The Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy contains more than 40 actions that are designed to improve children’s access to digital learning opportunities, empower innovation and investment in digital technology across the school estate, develop teachers’ skills and confidence, and make sure that the use of digital technology is integrated right across the curriculum.

We have refreshed the school curriculum for the teaching of computing science and digital literacy to ensure it reflects the needs of modern life and the labour market. The updated computing science curriculum focuses on 3 main concepts: understanding the world through computational thinking, understanding and analysing computing technology and designing, building and testing computing solutions which include developing coding skills. We have worked with Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Microsoft to introduce Digital School Awards to recognise the innovative and creative practice to developing digital skills in schools that is developing across all local authority areas. We have also worked with British Telecom and the British Computing Society to introduce the Barefoot Computing project which provides free teaching resources and volunteer-led training workshops to help primary teachers gain confidence when teaching computing science.

Since June 2016 Digital Xtra has made £400,000 available to help young people across Scotland develop their digital skills through extra-curricular opportunities such as coding clubs and competitions. The Digital Xtra Fund is one example of the Government’s commitment to closing the digital skills gap.

In addition, our Digital Strategy for Scotland, Realising Scotland's full potential in a digital world, highlights the importance of digital education in the curriculum and sets out a range of actions including expanding the number of school coding clubs.