This is near and dear to my heart. In 1981, while I attended 5th grade at Avery Public School in Oak Park, Michigan, Mr. Blanzy introduced me and a few other bright math students to an Apple ][+. It sat behind the classroom, with it's green screen monitor, waiting to be discovered.
The next year Mrs. Miller started an after school computer club where a small group of kids worked on programs and displayed them on a big projector screen hooked up via a funky video out interface on our Apple //e. We wrote BASIC and launched space shuttles (remember NASA launched Columbia, the first space shuttle recently) on screen. We watched the booster rocket parts descendto a "splashdown". The program all used ASCII and we marvelled at the beauty of how building something, piece by piece could accomplish something that to us looked like art. For the next 5 years until the end of high school, I studied programming with my Nibble magazine and did machine language entry of cool games, modified existing LONG BASIC programs, cracked games, got my first 300 bps modem and occupied my parents phone lines for hours on end. I eventually upgraded to a 2400bps Practical Peripherals external modem, and I thought that speed was unlimited then. Today, the slowest high speed Internet connection at 1Mbps is literally 500 times faster than this "speedy" modem. The 25Mbps connection then is over 12,000 times faster. Regular phone lines were used, and we didn't have call waiting whose clicks would interrupt my BBSing. Only picking up the phone caused my line to drop. Mom and Dad never bothered me and never told me to "get off the phone". They knew something amazing was happening. My mind was opening up.
These days, kids Hoogle, copy stuff of Wikipedia and rarely actually LEARN how computers work. Most kids take these gadgets for granted. But it does seem like the UK is doing something about it. I love the arduino, netduino and sites like instructables.com -- but parents are now engaging their kids it seems, rather than schools. So I ask is there a place for computer science in schools like in the 80s? Even a better version?