Google and Microsoft are teaming up to investigate how computing can be improved in Britain's schools

Microsoft school classroomMicrosoftA pupil using a Microsoft device.

They may be rivals, but Google and Microsoft are planning to work together to investigate how computing is taught in Britain’s schools and see whether it can be improved.

The US tech giants announced on Thursday that they want to identify the challenges teachers have faced since computer science was introduced into the national curriculum in 2014.

The Royal Society, a fellowship of many of the world’s most eminent scientists and the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, will also take part in the study.

The government introduced a new computing curriculum for 5-16 year olds in the UK two years ago that required teachers with little to no background in IT to teach children how to code.

Microsoft said the study — commissioned by the Royal Society and funded by Microsoft and Google — will aim to provide teachers with better classroom resources, guidance, continuing professional development programmes, and assessment tools. The study will also seek to identify how schools can encourage more young people to pursue a career in the technology sector.

Hugh Milward, director of corporate external and legal affairs at Microsoft UK, highlighted that the UK economy will need an additional 745,000 additional workers with “digital skills” by 2017.

“Quality computer science education in schools is vital,” said Milward in a statement. “This project will help shape and inform computer science education best practice and support educators with rich materials to inspire the next generation in whatever career they choose.”

Professor Stephen Furber, a Royal Society Fellow who is known for his work in designing microprocessors, is leading the study.

Tom McLeish, chair of the Royal Society’s Education Committee, said in a statement: “In a world where technology is increasingly embedded into our daily lives we need to ensure that the computer science curriculum equips young people to take advantage of the opportunities the digital world offers.

“As a subject with a rich and vital future, computer science not only needs high-quality teacher training and development, best practice in the classroom, and inspiring materials for pupils; it also needs solid, evidence-based research about what works.”

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