UK Government responds to Livingstone-Hope

The UK Government hasmade public its response to the Livingstone-Hope Skills Review, which in February this year made recommendations to include computer science into the national curriculum.

The statement from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport makes 85 distinct responses to the Livingstone-Hope report, which itself set out twenty recommendations for the Department for Education to consider.

The Livingstone-Hope report’s recommendations, in conjunction with UKIE’s Next Gen Skills Campaign, hope to benefit of the games industry, visual effects sector, youngsters looking for work in the creative industries, and wider UK trade and industry.

The detailed Government response, which clocks in at some 19 pages in length,is available in full here as a download. It recognises the value of the video games and VFX industries to the UK economy, and reveals that the state hopes to work with all concerned to implement a more focused computer science element to the UK education curriculum.

"Video games and VFX businesses are typically knowledge-intensive, high value and offer high quality jobs," reads the Government document. "They are a good fit for our aims to rebalance the economy. The UK games industry has an excellent reputation for creativity and innovation. Our talent has produced ground-breaking games titles such as Little Big Planet, Moshi Monsters and Batman: Arkham Asylum and some great advances in video games technology have come out of the UK. This includes recently, for example, a core part of the Xbox 360 Kinect’s human motion capture capability which was developed by engineers at Microsoft Research in Cambridge. Likewise in the VFX sector the UK leads the way. Some of the most important studios in the world are based here and their success has earned the UK recent Oscar wins for Inception and The Golden Compass."

Later the report, which does recognise the distinction between ICT and computer science so fundamental to the Next Gen’s efforts, reads: "The Government has always recognised, and continues to recognise, the importance of STEM subjects in supporting a broad spread of digital, creative, high tech, manufacturing and other industries as well as their fundamental importance as part of a child’s core education. Similarly, the Government appreciates the value of computer science and the important contribution the knowledge underpinning this subject makes to supporting economically important sectors of the economy such as video games and VFX. The Government looks forward to working with Next Gen Skills, educators and others to develop an attractive computer science offering for schools, so that students are able to develop the rigorous skills needed – not onlyto support these industries but also to ensure a digitally literate citizenry."

David Braben’s Raspberry Pi platform is also highlighted by the Government, which elsewhere in its response recognises that the efforts of Livingstone-Hope and Next Gen could serve to benefit the wider UK economy by positively affecting many other industries such as telecoms and aviation.

However, despite numerous responses from Whitehall that will surely give the Livingstone-Hope team and UKIE reason for optimism, the report issued by the UK Government does not commit to include computer science within the national curriculum; a key goal of those behind the initiative.

Eidos life president Ian Livingstone and Alex Hope, managing director of VFX outfit Double Negative, lead the report to which they lend their names,which is detailed here.

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