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Microsoft and CAS form ground-breaking partnership

MICROSOFT AND CAS FORM GROUND-BREAKING £334,000 PARTNERSHIP TO TRAIN AND SUPPORT UP TO 50,000 TEACHERS ACROSS THE UK

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8th April 2014 London: With the new Computing curriculum coming into force across UK primary and secondary schools in September, Microsoft and Computing At School (CAS) are joining forces to help teachers inspire a new generation of young people. Backed by a £334,000 investment from Microsoft, CAS is holding a series of 'Back to School' training sessions to show teachers how they can take the complexity of Coding and Computer Science and make it engaging to the touch screen generation.

How do you explain an algorithm to a class of 6 year olds and make it fun? We have a real opportunity here to excite and inspire the next generation of games developers if we get this right. But we need to move fast to bring the curriculum to life and grab the interest of kids in that very first term." Claire Lotriet, ICT Coordinator, Henwick Primary School.

The 'Countdown to Computing' programme will see Microsoft and CAS create two training courses for teachers; one for primary and one for secondary, together with supporting classroom resources that teachers can use in their first term. Using the CAS hubs, experts including the CAS master teachers will deliver face-face training across the country with 2,500 local events. There will also be more flexible training options via Skype so that all teachers can make the most of the training and resources available.

"In 2009 a 9 year old boy from Singapore built an app that has been downloaded more than 800,000 times, in 2013, a seven year old girl from Philadelphia became the youngest person to build a mobile game app. If we want the next success story to be based in Britain then we need teachers who have the right skills and the confidence to inspire, support and enable them to do so. That’s why, as part of Microsoft's 'Countdown to Computing' programme, we have partnered with CAS to deliver a series of personal training sessions across the country as teachers get ready for that all important first term." Michel Van der Bel, UK MD Microsoft.

"We know from talking to teachers that the new computing curriculum is pretty daunting if you've never taught it before, and September seems very close. But, if we can help them to hit the ground running in the first week, capture kids natural enthusiasm for technology in that first lesson and allow them to grow at their own pace, it's amazing what they can create." Simon Peyton Jones, Chair of CAS.

Microsoft's partnership with CAS will deliver training and resources for roughly one in every five primary school teachers in the county and at least three specialist teachers in every secondary school. Part of the British Computer Society, CAS is a grassroots organisation chaired by Simon Peyton-Jones from Microsoft Research Cambridge and they have been at the heart of the Computing curriculum reform. CAS is the Government's partner for teacher training through the Network of Teaching Excellence in Computer Science (NoE) and the Barefoot Computing programmes, both of which are run by CAS and funded by the Department for Education (DfE). The partnership was forged given CAS's huge involvement in the education community with a network of 103 regional hubs, where teachers meet face-to-face to share ideas and feedback on what works best in the classroom.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon George Osborne MP:

"Making sure our children are equipped with the right skills for the future is a key part of our long term economic plan. The new computing curriculum teaches students not just how to use computer applications but how to write them too, and we need skilled teachers to deliver it. So with a field that moves as fast as technology, it is absolutely right we work in partnership with industry. It is great to see Microsoft and the Computing At Schools group backing our new computing curriculum and providing this level of support for teachers. Together, if we encourage more of our young people to be producers, not just consumers of digital content, we will keep our technology sectors booming and help build a more resilient economy."

Microsoft is additionally supporting the CAS bid for matched funding from the Department for Education which will extend the programme further.

Russell Hobby, General Secretary, NAHT:

"The new computing curriculum fills teachers with equal parts excitement and trepidation. Excitement because they know that this subject is a gateway to opportunity for their students. Trepidation because many fear they lack the skills to deliver it. Industry support from companies like Microsoft will help build confidence and is both timely and welcome."

The 'Countdown to Computing' programme is part of Microsoft's long term ambition to ensure that every school leaver in the UK is computationally literate and that 80% of all jobs requiring computer science knowledge are able to be filled by a UK graduate by 2025. Earlier this year, the company launched a brand new suite of materials, aimed specifically at primary school teachers in partnership with educational publishers, Rising Stars. Nearly 30,000 Switched On Computing materials have been distributed to teachers across the country with the aim of helping teachers develop computer science skills in children as young as five.

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