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Digital Technology Studies

(Questions Without Notice, 10 September 2014, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

My question is directed to the Minister for Education. With the global digital economy rapidly growing and many countries teaching computer science and coding at schools, what action will the Minster take to ensure that New South Wales can learn coding, including introducing it on the curriculum and providing teaching incentives?

Response from Adrian Piccoli:
I thank the member for his question. The New South Wales K-12 curriculum provides a range of opportunities for students to learn about the specific use and application of digital technologies, including the application of coding. The member for Smithfield was in his electorate this morning talking about a student from Greystanes High School who has developed an app to assist students completing year 12. It is a great example of the graduates that are coming out of New South Wales schools who have incredible digital literacy. A study of digital technology is mandatory in the New South Wales K-12 curriculum, and the specific use and application of digital technology is a part of each New South Wales syllabus.

In 2012, for example, more than four times the number of references to digital tools was used in the English syllabus than was used in the syllabus that it replaced. In addition to the inclusion of digital technology, in each syllabus in New South Wales there are a number of syllabuses where coding is taught. These are industrial technology in stage 5 and Higher School Certificate [HSC]; information and software technology, stage 5; and software design and development, HSC. In 2013 there were more than 18,000 students enrolled in at least one of these courses. There are a number of HSC syllabuses that provide opportunities to study coding, including information processes and technology, computing applications, and information and digital technologies.

Last year there were more than 13,000 students enrolled in at least one of these courses, many of whom would have been learning coding. During 2014, many countries, including England, Finland, France and Singapore, as well as a number of jurisdictions in the United States, made coding mandatory for students from year 3. Such opportunities are already available to students in the New South Wales curriculum. The Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards is currently developing a statement regarding the opportunities for coding that currently exist in the New South Wales curriculum.

As to the second part of the question about student teachers, the board has existing initial teacher education requirements for teachers of computing-related courses. These requirements mean that graduates qualified to teach in these areas will have knowledge of the design and development of computer software and information systems, as well as the pedagogy relating to the subject and the relevant school curriculum. Student teachers in related areas such as mathematics also have the opportunity to study coding and they certainly engage in the study and pedagogy of computational thinking. The current inclusion of digital technology across all New South Wales syllabuses and the specialist courses that offer coding allow all New South Wales school students the opportunity to learn the skills needed to engage effectively in the global digital economy. We are aware that there is always room for improvement and we will continue to look for ways to enhance the educational outcomes of all New South Wales students. I thank the member for his question and commend him for pursuing this most important area of study.


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