With technological advances like generative AI and robotics driving many of the biggest innovations of our time, it’s essential that young people have the necessary digital skills to prepare them for future careers.
But the UK faces a crisis in hiring enough computer science teachers, having missed recruitment targets by 70% in 2022/23 (Long and Danechi, 2022). This compounds the UK's ongoing computing skills gap, with 30% of schools in England unable to offer computer science at GCSE level (Royal Society, 2018).
Amazon Future Engineer, Amazon’s childhood-to-career computer science programme, has worked with Teach First since 2019, an education charity that trains talented teachers and equips school leaders working in some of the poorest areas of England, to give children with the fewest opportunities access to a great education.
Amazon has invested more than £1 million, primarily to support the recruitment and training of new secondary school computing teachers. Since September 2021, our partnership has impacted more than 78,000 secondary school students.
Training new computing teachers with Teach First
Amazon supports Teach First to recruit, train, and place more Computing trainees in the schools that need our support most. These new teachers gain access to a fully funded teaching qualification, while also receiving a salary from day one in the classroom.
Trainees are also offered exclusive one-to-one support through the Amazon Techspert Programme, which pairs Amazon volunteers with Teach First trainees to share learnings and resources. Teachers also have the opportunity to attend an exclusive Amazon Insight Day and receive an Amazon Echo when they enter the classroom.
Since Amazon and Teach First began working together in 2019, Teach First has seen a 200% increase in the number of computing trainees entering the schools facing the biggest challenges, with 42 new teachers recruited across 2022 and 2023 Teach First Training Programme cohorts.
Amazon has also funded the roll-out of Teach First’s Subject Knowledge Enhancement course for STEM (Maths, Science, and Computing) trainees to support trainee teachers even further.
The courses are available in biology, chemistry, physics, maths, and computing, and offer high quality training as well as bespoke support to aid teachers on their way to entering the classroom. The courses help strengthen trainees’ knowledge of their chosen subject and build confidence. So far, the initiative has supported more than 370 teachers, indirectly reaching over 46,000 pupils.
How Amazon Future Engineer improves access to STEM education
Ark Globe Academy in inner city London is one of the schools benefitting from Amazon’s collaboration with Teach First, creating a positive influence on young people with the fewest opportunities.
Michael Kolawole, the school’s Assistant Principal - Design & Enterprise, spoke about the impact the activity is having on Ark Globe’s pupils.
“Amazon's donation will provide support and empower our computer science department to offer cutting-edge educational experience,” he said. “Technological literacy is essential for our students to be active contributors in an increasingly interconnected world and empower our students to think critically, innovate, and effect positive change."
Beyond Ark Globe Academy, Amazon Future Engineer has reached more than 500,000 young people across the UK, providing valuable learning experiences such as free Python coding courses, virtual school trips to go behind the scenes of an Amazon fulfilment centre, AI and musical coding challenges, and more.
The Class Chats programme brings both live and on-demand virtual career talks directly into UK classrooms, delivered by volunteers from across Amazon, including Alexa AI, Prime Video and AWS, engaging young people in STEM subjects and promoting opportunities for future careers in tech.
Working alongside Teach First, Amazon delivered over 50 Class Chats in Teach First partner schools in 2022/23, reaching thousands of pupils.
Find out more about how Amazon Future Engineer is engaging young people with technology.