The way pupils are taught about computers in schools in the UK needs a major overhaul to make it fit for the modern era.

This is according to professor of the public understanding of technology at the Open University John Naughton, who said in an article for the Guardian that just teaching youngsters how to use software – which may involve using ink supplies to print out documents – is not good enough.

He stated it will be vital that computer science is brought into classrooms from an early age so children have the opportunity to learn coding skills.

Prof Naughton said: "Almost everything we have done over the last two decades in the area of ICT education in British schools has been misguided and largely futile."

He explained that instead of educating young people about the concepts behind new technology and how it works, pupils have instead only been trained to use certain software products, many of which are likely to become obsolete.

As technology is becoming ubiquitous throughout the modern world, he said it is vital for people to develop an understanding of computer science.

"We teach elementary physics to every child, not primarily to train physicists but because each of them lives in a world governed by physical systems," he stated, observing a similar approach should be applied to IT.

If such steps are not taken, Prof Naughton warned individuals will grow up as "passive consumers" who rely on closed devices and services offered by a small range of providers.

He noted there is a great interest in understanding more of the basic concepts that underpin the workings of our technology, as evidenced by the fact over a million people have placed orders for the new Raspberry Pi computer.

The Linux-based machine, with a retail price of just £22, aims to encourage users to create their own programs, though its release has been delayed by problems obtaining the necessary compliance certification.