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Five-Year-Olds to Learn Programming and Algorithms in Major Computing Curriculum Shake-­p

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A child drawing a network diagram on a blackboard.

Next year, the U.K. will start teaching software basics, including programming and algorithms, to children as young as five years old.


The United Kingdom's Department for Education (DfE) recently overhauled the country's computing curriculum, removing the teaching of software basics such as Microsoft Word and adding programming and algorithm teaching for children as young as five years old.

The new curriculum will be mandatory starting in September 2014, and spans the breadth of all four key stages, beginning when a child first enters school at age five through age 16. Students will be taught to understand what algorithms are, how they are implemented as programs on digital devices, and that programs execute by following precise and unambiguous instructions.

"We are introducing a tougher, more rigorous national curriculum," says Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove. "For the first time children will be learning to program computers. It will raise standards across the board--and allow our children to compete in the global race."

The British Computer Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering wrote the original draft of the new curriculum, and DfE revised it. Students will be expected to create and debug simple programs by the end of key stage one, and they will be taught how to understand computer networks by key stage two.

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