Nik Butler: School science days should compete with sports days

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I have been fortunate enough to be self employed in an industry that is considered to be financially secure and which thankfully enables a level of anonymity; which affords protection from age bias.

I work with computers; and in today’s parlance that means I work on the Internet and with websites. I work in an industry that was unimaginable 20 years ago. The common assumption, when I discuss what I do, is that I must be very clever and probably have a degree of some sort. The truth is rather different.

When I was at school, Tanbridge House during the eighties, I was not considered worthy academic material. I barely scraped O’levels and I was told that despite my interests and hobbies I would never get a job in computing or programming. I lacked the presumed English and Maths A Levels considered the roles prerequisite qualifications. In reality nobody could predict the skills required to enter a career during the software revolution of the nineties.

Jump to the current year and I hear that pupils from St Mary’s School have won a £1000 prize at the national finals of PA Consulting’s ‘Raspberry PI competition’ held at the London Science Museum.

I see today that computing and technology education is operating in the dark, underfunded, under promoted and misunderstood. So much so that it takes volunteers, and spare time, to create opportunities for exploration in technology.

We should be encouraged by such results and in turn we should look to other schools and clubs in our district to ask why there are regular announcements promoting sports aid, for example ‘Set 4 Success’, but little in the way of social prominence for science and creativity. Where are the District and County inter-school competitions for Technology and Makers Fayre mentality? How about regular school science days to compete with school sport days?

Moreover when teachers and helpers look to the pupils as candidates for involvement can we ensure that they pick from the inventive and creative; not just the academically gifted.

We, as a community, have to consider the next decade, the next two decades, of investment in Horsham District.

If our strategy fails to include our children’s future opportunities for education, then we are building straw houses to be blown away by the winds of change that are wrought through the evolving lifestyles which the Internet has brought to every community.