THE BLOG

Government's Year of Code Is Riddled With Bugs

06/02/2014 13:21 GMT | Updated 07/04/2014 10:59 BST

The Government has to be applauded for promoting learning - of any kind - and yesterday's announcement that the government is to create a fund for teacher to learn how to teach software development or 'coding' is long-overdue. But why so little, so late and why has somebody who knows nothing about coding (by her own admission) been put in charge?

The Department for Education is introducing a new computing syllabus this September, which will be compulsory for all students between the ages of 5 and 16.

Many of us who are engineers, look to Germany and envy their engineering greatness. In Britain, we are quietly leading another type of engineering in Europe and after all, software engineering is the engineering of the future.

September's new computing curriculum was drawn up with support from the Royal Society of Engineering as well as leading firms such as Google and Microsoft. This sounds like a really good start.

George Osborne and Michael Gove have come up with a catchy programme called 'Year of Code' (www.yearofcode.org), which starts in March with objective to get schools teaching every pupil at least one hour of coding during a week-long programme in March. All sounds like a great idea.

Teachers have exactly 3 weeks to get themselves with the programme, learn 'how to code' and get the kids building software in March...

The Year of Code is funded by £500k...

This is the same amount being spent on a sports centre upgrade in Redruth, the price of a small cottage on the Isle of Wight (if you are quick) and lets not even consider how this measures up to a modestly successful banker's bonus.

Can it be that the entire country's teachers and an entire generation can be galvanised by the 'white heat of this revolution' in just 3 weeks and a mere £500k?

Last night, the 'Year of Code's' Director presented herself and the plan to the public on Newsnight. According to LinkedIn, Lottie Dexter's entire career spans 2 years at Iain Duncan-Smith's 'Centre for Social Justice think-tank and then moved on to a campaign back in January 2013 to get young people in to work called 'Million Jobs' - and just over the weekend, we hear how conservative supporters are getting all the new jobs.

This is yet another politically led appointment by Michael Gove.

However, of far greater importance, Ms. Dexter freely admits that she does not know 'how to code' - but she does believe that teachers can learn to code in a single day and has pledged to 'learn how to code' sometime over the next year.

Twitter erupted.

"Director of Code for the gov appears to be of a non-coding type. Said you need to code to get a job. Clearly not in her case:-)" - @EvaPascoe

"Director of the Year of Code doesn't know how to code. Next, on #newsnight, a Head Chef who burns salad." - @gail_brand

Ms. Dexter continued to say that anybody could 'code a website in 1 hour'. This and many other software engineering magic tricks were offered up on the show.

Those of us that have developing code for donkeys years will be amazed that such an important initiative is being led by somebody who knows nothing about creating code.

What we need in this country is a 'David Attenborough of Software Engineering'; somebody who truly understands, loves and enthuses over the subject.

Jeremy Paxman, started to ask Ms. Dexter questions about code and then gave up. Maybe he just wasn't in the mood but he could certainly smell blood as she hesitated to answer simple questions that every school kid Ms. Dexter meets will be able to help her answer.

Engineering is a complex matter. And yet, once again the elite of our country find engineering too unimportant to either fund it properly or even put it in the hands of somebody that knows anything about it. Breath-taking.