THE conundrum over computing science education is worthy of Joseph Heller.

Young people with skills in all aspects of computers and programming are in demand. The prospects are so good that Professor Quintin Cutts of Glasgow University believes the subject should join those of law and medicine at the top of any list of desirable career paths.

Yet because those with such skills can command high salaries in a technology-focused world, few are willing to teach. The salaries they can expect elsewhere start well ahead of what a teacher with years of experience might earn, and accelerate away.

Loading article content

That is one reason why the Royal Society says 17 per cent of Scottish Schools lack a dedicated computing. And while the number of secondary pupils has dropped, the number taking Advance Higher Computing Science, has risen sharply. Yet the number of computer science teachers is down 25 per cent.

It is an alarming picture, only partly offset by the success of schemes like Plan C, which brings expertise and the research from the outside world into schools.

The good news is that the experts agree Scotland’s curriculum for the subject is well designed and up-to-date. But the Government must do more to encourage more people to train to teach computing science and to support and develop the teachers we do already have.