Microsoft researcher to head up new National Centre for Computing Education

A Microsoft researcher who also chairs the group behind the controversial master computing teachers programme has been put in charge of the government’s £84 million new computing education centre.

Professor Simon Peyton Jones will chair the National Centre for Computing Education, the Department for Education has announced today.

Alongside his work as a principal researcher at Microsoft, Peyton Jones is chair of the Computing At School, a division of the British Computer Society, one of three organisations selected to run the new centre.

Computing At School also oversaw a government drive to recruit 400 master computing teachers, which took three years longer and £1 million more funding than expected to reach its target. There are still questions about whether the new master teachers will play a role in the new centre for computing, which was announced as part of a £100 million investment set out in the 2017 budget.

As the centre’s chair, Peyton Jones will lead the centre’s work as it strives to improve computing teaching and drive up participation in computer science in schools.

The DfE said he would also “uphold the integrity of computing as an academic discipline across all the resources, guidance and professional development for teachers that the centre provides”.

“The national centre offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to firmly establish computer science as a foundational subject discipline that will enable all our young people to be active participants in the complex digital world that surrounds them,” said Peyton Jones.

“I am delighted to have a role in translating the big vision of the new computing curriculum into a vibrant reality in every classroom in the country.”

The centre will operate “virtually” through up to 40 school-led “computing hubs”, the government said. It will provide training and resources to primary and secondary schools, and an “intensive training programme” for secondary teachers without a post A-Level qualification in computer science.

The centre will also develop an A-level programme to “better prepare A level students for further study and employment in digital roles”.

As well as being a principal researcher at Microsoft, Peyton Jones is an honorary professor in Glasgow University’s computer science department.