The row over Tory cronies in taxpayer-backed positions look set to intensify after it emerges the boss of the government’s coding education initiative cannot code — or even give a decent explanation of what is involved. Figures behind the scheme include Michael Gove, who is at the centre of the furore over Conservative placemen in Whitehall and the ‘quangocracy’.
Conservative activist Lottie Dexter was ridiculed by IT experts and educationalists for her clueless performance on Newsnight — in which she claimed that teachers could be trained how to educate students in computer programming “in a day”:
And after an embarrassing pause while she struggled to explain what computer programming was, she told Paxman:
“It doesn’t mean anything to you, or indeed to me yet because I don’t know how to code”
What Lottie Dexter lacks in obvious qualifications for the role she certainly makes up for with impeccable Tory connections. She worked as communications manager for the think tank founded by Iain Duncan Smith and may be familiar to readers as the somewhat ubiquitous face of the Tory outrider ‘Million Jobs’ campaign – an astroturfing operation which purports to “represent” the young unemployed while advocating for tax cuts and the watering down of equality legislation.
Here is what game designers, startup founders and the director of educational development at the Raspberry Pi Foundation had to say about the shambles:
— Clive Beale (@clivebeale) February 5, 2014
— Clive Beale (@clivebeale) February 6, 2014
So government appoints of merit but appoints year if code director who can't code and couldn't explain it but is conservative #newsnight
— Paul Coulton (@MysticMobile) February 5, 2014
As Dir of Code thinks teachers can learn to code in a day, why is she only committing to learn it herself 'over the next year'? #newsnight
— Glynn Jones (@glynn_jones) February 5, 2014
— Laura Hammond (@lhammondsoas) February 5, 2014
With an exquisite lack of self awareness, Dexter opined:
“Knowing how to code is crucial for so many people for getting jobs in the new economy”
Unless, that is, you are the director of the government’s coding scheme.