Eidos life president Ian Livingstone has praised Google chairman Eric Schmidt for a recent speech about the state of education in the UK, calling it a "ringing endorsement" of the Livingstone-Hope video games skills review. In fact, says Livingstone, "It's as though he lifted his comments straight from Next Gen." - referring to the report he helped create.
UK culture minister Ed Vaizey was also apparently "delighted" that Schmidt's MacTaggart lecture echoed the key conclusions of the government-backed Next Gen report.
"He bemoaned the throwing away of our heritage of computing starting with the BBC Micro in the 1980s and the BBC's broadcasting of coding for kids," Livingstone told GameIndustry.biz in an exclusive interview. "He criticised the fact that computer science is not taught in schools and that the curriculum focuses on using software with no insight on how it is made. What he said was a ringing endorsement of Next Gen and gives us belief and encouragement to continue even more vociferously with our Next Gen Skills campaign."
Schmidt's lecture, delivered in Edinburgh on August 26, was critical of the UK's educational system, highlighting that more computer science training and related subjects need to be taught.
Livingstone told GI.biz that he spoke to Vaizey "immediately afterwards", and that "he was delighted that Eric Schmidt's opinions echoed those in Next Gen and will use them as a platform to boost the awareness of Next Gen's recommendations."
In the speech Schmidt said he was "flabbergasted to learn that today computer science isn't even taught as standard in UK schools", and warned that the UK was "throwing away [its] great computer heritage", stressing strongly that the UK "needs to bring art and science back together."
Bringing computer science into the national curriculum was the number one recommendation of the Livingstone-Hope report. Livingstone hopes the stature of Google's chairman saying such things would add weight to the campaign to get his report's recommendations implemented.
"I would hope that the lecture would help our cause to gain greater traction inside the DfE [Department for Education] and BIS [UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills]," he said. "Unfortunately we have had no dialogue with [Education secretary] Michael Gove or his special Advisors at DfE, and of course it is the DfE that decides the curriculum. I'm hoping the DfE will think, 'Well if Eric said it, it must be true' and we get to speak to Mr Gove soon."
Livingstone went on to say that it was a shame that it takes the chairman of a US multi-national "to rattle DfE's cage" to get the ball rolling again. The government is due to issue an update on the Livingstone-Hope report next month.