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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-04007: Jamie Greene (West Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 25 October 2016

To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to promote (a) software development and coding and (b) other digital skills across the education system.

Answered by: John Swinney 3 November 2016

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 specialist computing science disciplines, including the computational thinking and technical skills required in software development and coding.

Launched in September, our new Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy seeks to embed the use of technology in learning and teaching right across the curriculum, providing a foundation for digital skills development.

To support digital skills development in line with industry needs, the Government has made £8.5 million available through the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership. Achievements have included: the establishment of CodeClan which is Scotland’s first industry led skills academy; the Digital World marketing campaign which aims to raise awareness of the opportunities and benefits a career in IT can bring; and Digital Extra which provides young people with an opportunity to develop their digital skills through extra-curricular opportunities such as coding clubs and competitions.

A range of new education and training initiatives are being taken forward to enhance digital skills, with a particular focus on increasing support for teachers and new opportunities for learners. The Barefoot Computing programme, for example, will give primary school teachers access to a range of on-line teaching resource materials and workshops. This will enable them to deliver computing science and assist understanding of how computational thinking can benefit learners across a range of subjects; particularly maths and science. Older pupils can benefit from access to the wider range of relevant vocational qualifications offered by SQA and pathways such as the new Foundation Apprenticeship in Software Development introduced by Skills Development Scotland.

A good example of the college sector addressing digital skills shortages is the Dundee and Angus College Code Academy. The Academy aims to provide a link between college, school, university and employers by offering short “code camps”, workshops for schools, coding clubs as well as coding clubs specifically for girls.