UKIE outlines to government that having Computer Science on the National Curriculum is vital to growth of UK’s video games

14 April 2011 - London, United Kingdom– Video games and interactive entertainment trade body, UKIE today uses its submission to the government’s National Curriculum Review to call for the UK’s children to be taught computer science as a standalone subject in schools.

The recent Livingstone Hope review of the skills needed in the video games and visual effects industries highlighted that children were not being taught the skills that Britain’s hi-tech industries need. Although digital devices and software are an intrinsic part of modern life, computer science, the most important skill required to create the devices and software of the future, is not currently on the National Curriculum.

Therefore, UKIE is using its submission to the government’s National Curriculum review to support the Livingstone Hope review’s recommendation that children should have the choice to study computer science as part of the National Curriculum, from GCSE age onwards.

UKIE believes that computer science will provide essential knowledge alongside other STEM subject such as maths and physics, of huge benefit to wider industry.

UKIE believes that this skills gap is a threat not just to the future of the video games industry but also to any business that has computer technology at its core– anything from shopping online or creating a major engineering project, to producing the latest video game or designing a jet engine. The potential impact of not having the right skills can be seen when considering that technology and content industries industries alone contribute over£100 billion to the UK’s economy (source: CIHE– The Fuse).

Not having computer science as part of the National Curriculum will mean that the UK will become a passive user of technology, falling behind the rest of the world.

Including computer science in the revised National Curriculum would also be a strong statement to the rest of the world that the UK views technical understanding of computing as essential knowledge for the high-tech economy of the 21 st century.

The current ICT curriculum is not computer science. It focuses on simply using existing software packages and not creating them. This means that there is a generation of British children who lack the maths, physics and computer programming skills required to actually create the apps, games and digital technology that most of us already use every day and that form part of an ever growing, multi-billion pound global market.

Ian Livingstone OBE, UKIE Board Member, co-author of the Livingstone Hope Skills Review and Life President, of video games publisher Eidos said:“Our children are surrounded by computers at school, in the playground and at home. You would be forgiven for thinking that computers are the one thing that no modern pupil is missing out on.”

“But you couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, the narrowness of how we teach children about computers risks creating a generation of digital illiterates, and starving some of the UK’s most successful industries of the talent they need to thrive.”

“Putting computer science in the National Curriculum will have a powerful effect: it will end the isolation of computers - the defining technological force of the new century - in a strange quasi-vocational educational ghetto, and instead will prepare our pupils for some of the UK’s most successful growth industries, especially the digital and creative industries.”

“Michael Gove recently highlighted the importance of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s schooldays, in which he studied Greek and Latin alongside maths and sciences. What went unreported was that his school also taught computer science, a subject which not only gave him practical skills but provided the intellectual underpinnings of his blockbuster business. Faced with a world in which they will be surrounded by computers and the opportunities they create, Britain’s schoolchildren deserve the same chance.”

Michael Rawlinson, Director General of video games trade body, UKIE said:“The UK has a heritage in developing video games that we can be very proud of. However, if we are to continue to produce world-class interactive entertainment we need to ensure that we have a world-class work force to produce it.”

“One of UKIE’s key goals is to promote a skills and education agenda that will ensure that the right people have the right skills to succeed in the games industry. Having computer science introduced onto the National Curriculum would be big step towards achieving this goal and will have a positive impact on the many other industries that have computer technology at their core.”

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About UKIE

The Association for United Kingdom Interactive Entertainment or UKIE is a trade body that represents the whole of the UK’s video games and wider interactive entertainment industry. Founded in 1989 (and formerly known as ELSPA), UKIE’s membership includes games publishers, developers and the academic institutions that support the industry.

UKIE works with government to champion a range of issues including age ratings, education and skills, tax incentives and protecting intellectual property rights. It also works with the media to ensure true and accurate representation of the sector by raising awareness of the industry’s positive economic contribution and the societal benefits of gaming to policy makers, regulators and consumers.

One of UKIE’s key roles is to support its members by providing them with key market information, promoting careers and offering the business support services, training and best-practice knowledge to enable them to operate most effectively.

In addition, UKIE works with GfK Chart-Track to compile weekly, monthly and annual retail charts and sales reports for the UK market. 

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