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Microsoft training 160,000 primary school teachers in ‘Computing’ ahead of curriculum change

Microsoft is implementing a new training program designed to help primary school teachers prepare for the introduction of Computing onto the curriculum in September 2014.

Related: BBC launches new IT initiative to boost coding in UK

The ‘First Class Computing’ program will help 160,000 non-specialist primary school teachers learn the necessary skills to be able to teach Computing in schools and delivers this through a series of road shows and the introduction of new materials to ensure teachers are ready.

“We welcomed the news of the new Computing curriculum alongside others in the industry because it is absolutely critical for the future success of our young people. The challenge now is to ensure that primary teachers are equipped to deliver it by September,” says Steve Beswick, Senior Director of Education, Microsoft UK.

The Switched On Computing materials, launched in conjunction with educational publisher Rising Stars, have been trialled by teachers and children to make sure they are effective at improving computer science skills in children from school years one to six.

Computing is replacing ICT on the curriculum later this year to try and encourage kids to increase computational thinking in order to learn how technology works and how it can help people explore the world.

Microsoft is also offering cut-price Xbox 360 consoles to schools that have a DreamSpark subscription in order to “further increase computational thinking and games development in young people.”

DreamSpark give students tools to design and create applications and games for Microsoft Xbox, Windows Phone and Windows 8 including professional developer software and resources that can be used at home as well as at school.

The Xbox in Education offer includes a three-year DreamSpark Standard subscription for students studying Computer Science and prices will be revealed when the site launches on 27 January.

An additional cog to the strategy is the second annual Kodu Kup competition that allows children between seven and 14 years to build games using the Kodu visual programming language and win prizes.

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The news comes just weeks ahead of Bett 2014, the UK’s annual tech education tradeshow, where Microsoft said last year that the UK has “so much more to do” when it comes to IT education.