You don’t have to be a policy expert to know that technology is the key to the future. It will increase efficiency, drive change and grow our economy. As we have seen in recent events, it is also paramount to our national security and resilience.
Which makes it all the more baffling that this affinity with technology is not being exploited and supported by Scotland’s education system. In fact, almost unbelievably, the exact opposite is happening.
Between 2008 and 2020 the number of computing teachers decreased from 766 to a mere 595.
It gets worse.
Over a period of 20 years the number of pupils studying computing science in Scotland has plummeted by almost 20,000 to just 9,873 pupils. There is also a growing gender divide, with girls only accounting for 1,895 of those pupils.
With such a fall in the number of pupils taking computing science it is worth pondering the quality of the subject. Having left school nine years ago I can only comment on my own experience of it, but it was far from thrilling. Taught by an otherwise nice elderly man (in hindsight, the entire department was male), he had clearly lost track of technological developments and often stonewalled questions. He frequently brought out his first computer (from memory I think it was the ZX Spectrum) to reminisce. Sitting in a hot classroom, the only sound the whirring of fans desperately trying to keep ageing computers from overheating as we answered (on paper) questions such as, “what is a GUI” and “list three peripheral devices” it was about as far removed from the creative dynamic buzz of Silicon Valley as you can get.