The Chairmain of Google, Eric Schmidt, delivered the MacTaggart Lecture in Edinburgh on Friday. He criticised British education in general but specifically the teaching of Computing: "Your IT curriculum focuses on teaching how to use software, but gives no insight into how it's made."
Scotland has avoided that. Software development has always been a key part of the Scottish curriculum. At a time when computer science and programming was being reduced in the UK, the Higher Still programme protected "pure" computing, while reacting to pressure (which existed at the time) to introduce a "softer" course by creating a new suite of courses in Information Systems. The Curriculum for Excellence continues that tradition through the proposed Computing & Information Science courses, which also feature software development as a key part of the curriculum.
Software development has been a key part of vocational qualifications in Scotland. We recently developed a suite of NPAs in Computer Games Development, perhaps the first national qualification of their kind in the world. And there is a dedicated HND qualification (HND Software Development [PDF]) that focuses on programming. The current HN Review consolidates the place of programming by making it a mandatory part of the new HNC award, and every one of the new HNDs.
All of that might explain why Scotland punches above its weight when it comes to software production, with 25% of the UK's jobs in the video games sector being located here. The country has established an international reputation in computer games production and SQA has supported this through an extensive range of qualifications in this area.
Contact Hilary for more information about NC/NPA Computer Games Development or contact Caroline for more information about HND Software Development or HNC/D Computer Games Development. Contact Derek if you want to know more about the role of programming in the Curriculum for Excellence.