Spiral Notebook: Why learning to code should be an essential part of a child's education

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By Giles Broadbent

Canary Wharf Group sponsors a coding club network across Tower Hamlets.
This nationwide network of volunteer after-school clubs aims to let children rip the screen off their computers and tablets and let them rummage around with the gubbins inside.

Britain has a long-standing tradition of software development which grew out of the early accessible machines such as the Acorn and Spectrum.

From the early childish thrills of writing rude words that filled the screen, the result has been a profitable industry that has given the world Lara Croft and Grand Theft Auto.

That spirit was lost with the closed devices, although recent innovations such as the Raspberry Pi aim to revive the idea that children would enjoy fooling around with circuits and logic commands just as much as flinging irate birds at dodgy architecture.

Fortunately - and shamefully late - the coding clubs will become an added extra, not the sole engine of computer science education. From September, England will be the first country in the world to make computer programming a compulsory school subject.

Computer code - like English itself - has become the essential way of describing, transcribing and shaping the modern world.

Sad that we insisted on the limited (albeit charming) backwaters of French for so long while failing to recognise the significance of a truly global, relevant and growing language.

Follow Giles Broadbent on Twitter: @MediaGulch


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