Secondary school students in Wales will benefit from extra funds to help them develop coding skills before the roll out of the new Welsh school curriculum in 2021.
First Minister Carwyn Jones has announced the Welsh Government has invested an extra £670,000 into programmes that help develop the computer programming skills of teachers and students in secondary schools across Wales.
The announcement was prompted by a question from Lee Waters, the Labour AM for Llanelli, asking what measures the Welsh Government was taking to ensure that students leaving school before the new curriculum is implemented are not left behind.
Mr Jones said: “Our programme for government sets out that we will ensure young people in Wales have the relevant skills they need for the future by developing coding skills in our young people.
“We do know of course that we want to encourage coding skills. We fast-tracked the publication of the digital competence framework which will support the development and embedding of digital skills in everything a young person does in school.
“It’s hugely important that our children have the same if not better IT skills compared to other children in the world.”
His response was seized upon by members of opposition parties.
Michelle Brown, the UKIP AM for North Wales asked: “If we have the money to be spending on IT, wouldn’t that money be better spent on literacy and numeracy skills which has been failing for a while?
Darren Millar, Conservative AM for Clwyd West said that students would have trouble doing homework for coding, as many would not have access to the Superfast Cymru broadband scheme.
He said: “You will be aware that you made a clear commitment, in your 2011 Labour assembly manifesto, which gave a pledge to roll out broadband to all residential and business premises by 2015. That was a broken promise, wasn’t it?”
The new Welsh school curriculum, which is known as the Donaldson curriculum, will change the focus of the Welsh school curriculum to include computer programming and IT skills in every class, alongside literacy and numeracy skills.
However, a committee of AMs investigating the rollout of the new curriculum said in February that progress had been slow and that the Welsh Government needed to offer more leadership to put the new curriculum into place.