coding computing curriculum
Three-quarters of primary school pupils said they would rather learn how to code than learn French ollyy/ Flickr CC

The programming language Python has overtaken French as the most popular language taught in primary schools, according to new research. The news comes exactly one year after the UK government introduced the Computing curriculum, which featured coding as a core component.

The study, commissioned by Ocado Technology, sampled 1,000 primary school age children, 1,000 secondary school age children and 1,000 parents in order to assess the progress of the new curriculum. It found that six out of 10 parents would prefer their children to learn Python instead of French.

Three-quarters of the primary school children surveyed said that, if offered the choice, they would rather learn how to programme a robot than learn French.

While enthusiasm is high at primary-school level, the survey revealed that interest in computing drops away by the time pupils reach secondary school. More than half of students listed the Computer Science GCSE as an "easy option".

"Unfortunately this is an example of a wider and more serious problem that we face in terms of Computer Science in the UK not being treated as the serious engineering discipline that it undoubtedly is," said Paul Clarke, director of technology at Ocado.

"The irony is that this is at a time when we are facing a massive shortfall in the number of software engineers and IT specialists who will be required to help build out the UK's digital economy."

In an effort to address this, Ocado Technology has called on the government to make the Computer Science GCSE mandatory, as well as increase training for teachers to more effectively deliver the curriculum. Concerns were raised by primary school teachers when the new curriculum was rolled out last September, with one Bristol-based teacher suggesting to IBTimes UK that it will take a couple of years to "find its feet".

The introduction of Computing - the biggest overhaul to the national curriculum since 2000 - was described by the man overseeing the new programmes of study as like launching a rocket.

"My mental image is that it's like a rocket taking off," said Simon Peyton Jones, chair of the Computing at School (CAS) group. "Lift off is a very important moment."