Google to fund new UK computer science teachers

By Sooraj Shah
24 May 2012 View Comments

Google is to partner with charity Teach First to train and support 100 teachers, 61 of which will teach ICT.

Speaking about the partnership, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who has previously berated the government for not incorporating computer science into the UK curriculum, said that the initiative will help to plug a shortage in computer science teachers.

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"We recognise there's a severe shortage in the UK of people equipped to teach computer science. So, we've joined forces with Teach First to help train and support more than 100 first-rate science and computer science teachers over the next three years," he said.

Independent charity Teach First aims to remove the skills gap between low and high income families by developing the skills of graduates. The three-year partnership is rooted in a shared concern that too few young people are leaving school with the skills and interest to work in the UK's science and technology sector.

According to Teach First's director of external relations, James Westhead, Google will help the charity to recruit a higher quality and quantity of graduates.

Westhead told Computing that the two-year course will be available in 14 UK universities and will allow "exceptional" graduates to receive training on the job.

"What is different to the post-graduate certificate in education (PGCE) programme is that the Teach First course trains graduates on the job and allows them to take control of lessons. Furthermore graduates will get paid between £18,000 and £21,000 in their first year [unlike the PGCE], and after completing this they'll rise as they will be recognised as qualified teachers," he said.

Westhead said that Google will also provide students with bursaries and teaching resources to inspire their classes.

To apply, graduates would need a 2:1 or first from a leading university and 300 UCAS points, along with meeting Teach First's skills requirements.

Westhead explained that although the charity has ensured that the criteria are "very tough", the likes of Google and Microsoft hoovering up the best talent mean that graduates with relevant IT skills are hard to come by.

"We want the top talent but so do Microsoft and Google so it is hard to recruit the best, but what is unique about this opportunity is that it is giving back to society by training children from low socio-economic backgrounds," he said.

Speaking about the partnership, Teach First founder and CEO Brett Wigdortz said: "The shortage of ICT and science teachers is an issue facing most schools, but this issue is especially acute in those schools serving low-income communities.

"Through joining forces with Google, Teach First will be able to ensure that, over the three years of the partnership, more than 20,000 pupils from low socio-economic backgrounds will benefit from having access to inspirational ICT and science teachers."

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