Primary school children could learn computer coding under proposals drawn up by Minister for Education Richard Bruton. He has asked the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment to consider approaches to introducing the teaching of coding in primary schools.
“For the generation of children recently born and starting to enter primary school, creative thinking and problem-solving skills will be absolutely key to how they develop . . . and achieve their potential,” Mr Bruton said.
“In particular, their ability to think critically and develop solutions in the digital world will be vital for their prospects in life. I am determined that we should continually improve the education system in this area.”
The council will be consulting on a new framework for the primary curriculum this year and is developing a new primary mathematics curriculum. It aims to have a draft new curriculum for mathematics for junior infants to second class next spring.
Mr Bruton has written to the council in recent days to request it to consider coding as part of the review. “The success of the CoderDojo project is a fantastic example of the benefits of teaching coding to young children. Hugely popular with children, it teaches creative problem-solving skills in a manner that engages and excites them,” he said.
“I believe that we must learn from successful programmes like this to improve the experience and outcomes of the education system for our children.”
Policy makers and the technology sector say there is an acute shortage of skilled graduates to fill gaps in the tech sector. A series of measures, such as bonus points for maths in the Leaving Cert and reforms to the senior cycle curriculum, are aimed at increasing the numbers going on to study science, technology, maths and engineering.
The introduction of coding classes is likely to be controversial, however, among some educationalists who argue that narrow skills should be taught much later in the school system.
Mr Bruton said these skills could improve outcomes for children. “At the heart of everything we are trying to do as a Government is to use our economic success to create a fair and compassionate society – and ultimately to make life a little bit easier for people.