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7 November, 2018 - 19:20 By Tony Quested

Google chips in as Raspberry Pi consortium secures £78m for STEM initiative

The Raspberry Pi Foundation in Cambridge is part of a consortium that has secured more than £78 million in government funding to make sure every child in every school in England has access to a world-leading computing education.

Working with its partners, STEM Learning and the British Computer Society, Raspberry Pi – creator of a globally successful micro computer, will establish a new National Centre for Computing Education and deliver a comprehensive programme of support for computing teachers in primary and secondary schools. This will include resources, training, research, certification and much more.

All of the online resources and courses will be completely free for anyone to use. Face-to-face training will be available at no cost to teachers in priority schools and at very low cost to teachers in other schools. 

Raspberry Pi will also provide bursaries to ensure that schools can release teachers to take part in professional development. Raspberry Pi says this level of investment in computing education is unprecedented anywhere in the world. It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the way we teach computing and computer science.

The announcement follows the Royal Society’s report from last November, which drew attention to the scale of the challenge. The report was quickly followed by a commitment from the Chancellor in last year’s Budget statement that the Government would invest £100 million in computing education across the UK.

Earlier this year, the Department for Education launched a procurement process focused on England and today’s announcement is the outcome of that process.

The consortium has been tasked with delivering three pieces of work:-
• A National Centre for Computing Education, which will establish a network of Computing Hubs to provide continuing professional development (CPD) and resources for computing teachers in primary and secondary schools and colleges. The centre will also facilitate strong links with industry
• A teacher training programme to upskill existing teachers to teach GCSE Computer Science
• A programme to support AS- and A-level Computer Science students and teachers with high-quality resources and CPD.

The consortium brings together subject expertise and knowledge, significant experience of creating brilliant learning experiences and resources, and a track record of delivering high-quality professional development for educators. 

Raspberry Pi is working with the University of Cambridge team that created Isaac Physics to adapt and extend that platform and programme to support teachers and students of Computer Science A Level.

Google has provided practical support and a grant of £1 million to help Raspberry Pi create free online courses that will help teachers develop the knowledge and skills to teach computing and computer science.

Raspberry Pi says: “We’re working with the Behavioural Insights Team to make it as easy as possible for teachers to get involved with the programme, and with FutureLearn to provide high-quality online courses.

“We’ll also be working in partnership with industry, universities, and non-profits, pooling our expertise and resources to provide the support that educators and schools desperately want. 

“That’s not just a vague promise. As part of the bid process, we secured specific commitments from over 60 organisations who pledged to work with us to make our vision a reality. Over the coming weeks we’ll be sharing more about our plans. In the meantime, here’s how you can get involved.

“We are proud that the Raspberry Pi Foundation will be playing its part in transforming computing education in England. But our mission is global and our commitment is that the resources and online courses we create will be freely available to anyone, anywhere in the world.”

• Image courtesy – The Raspberry Pi Foundation

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