England's updated national curriculum is due to be released later this week and some important details have already been leaked. Children between the ages of five and fourteen will be trained in robotics, 3D printing and other cutting edge technology.
Children ages five to seven will be taught basic computer programming skills as well as how to use simple electrical systems in their projects. By the time they reach eleven years of age and enter secondary school, they will be using 3D and mathematical modeling programs along with 3D printers.
This announcement comes on the heels of a Royal Academy of Engineering report that states the demand for engineers in the UK is rising while the number of applicants is falling.
According to the report, "Surveys of the supply of UK educated and trained graduate engineers suggests that demand will exceed supply into the foreseeable future." The new curriculum is designed to help fill that future gap.
"We are in a global race." Prime Minister David Cameron said. "Our children are competing against children in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore, and we need to make sure our national curriculum – the standards we set – are as rigorous, as tough, as those on the other side of the world."
Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove
Unfortunately, not everyone in the U.K. supports the new curriculum. Brian Lightman, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), believes that it will be difficult to implement. "Our biggest concern is with the timeframe and the lack of resources to prepare for such a major change," said Lightman.
Despite criticism, the Prime Minister believes in the proposed changes. "The criticism people are making of this new curriculum is, 'You are asking too much, can you really get young children to do algorithms?' I think we have to make that change," said Prime Minister Cameron. "If that's what they are doing in China and India and some of the countries with the best educational standards in the world, we have got to do that here."
The new curriculum will be in effect from September 2014 onwards.
You can listen to the Prime Minister discuss the national curriculum here: