Another year, another consultation, and another initiative to promote computer science teaching. One does start to wonder how much more change a subject can have within such a short space of time!
It is amid this that we hear, as a Subject Team, the concerns of all involved. There have certainly been strong feelings of frustration at the changes and at the speed of change. This has been heightened by the challenges of teachers trying to also re-train and adapt to a technical subject at the same time.
To compound the concerns in computer science, the moving of ICT to vocational has also seen a new, more technical curriculum. Key Stage 3 learning needs to be revamped to prepare candidates effectively for the new curricula. More time spent planning… but then do you plan, or upskill?
And now, there is a new National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE). The NCCE is funded by the government (£84m in England) to help re-train teachers and promote computer science education. Something which is unique and lauded – as it rightly should be.
As a country, we tend to sniff at initiatives before they have a chance to root themselves and embed. Another flash in the pan, money won’t be spent where it’s needed, etc. It feels a shame that there already appears to be scepticism about the new NCCE.
Not only is it a team effort by three leading organisations (The British Computer Society, STEM Learning and the Raspberry Pi Foundation), but involves other significant players – for instance Google. It is a massive opportunity to become a leading teaching nation in computer science.
The early impact of the centre is already visible. Their Computer Science Accelerator CPD is offering 40 hours of training to secondary teachers who have no post-A Level qualification in computer science (or related) subjects. Check out this offer using this link!
Changes bring uncertainty as a side effect. But we must also accept that teaching computer science as a subject is a young discipline – and open to change. Mostly taught for the first time at university, we have, within a few years, now started teaching it from primary school upwards. Our agreed pedagogy and methods are not rooted in years of evidence, research or success.
I can see the NCCE being a powerful vehicle through which teachers can engage with latest research, further strengthen local networks, and become distributors of effective learning and pedagogy to their students.
The impact of this will likely have significant impact for the whole country, as we strive to develop world leading students in Computer Science for an ever-increasing digital society.
We are now presented as a community with the opportunity to really galvanise and embed teaching of computer science. Not just for the benefit of the next set of exam results, but as leaders in teaching our subject.
We all have a duty to pass on best practice and ideas. To support each other and continue to foster the positive and engaging communities we are parts of. To inspire the next generation of computer scientists, despite the current challenges.
The NCCE is a positive step forwards – but this will bring more change. As more research is used to support and define teaching will inevitably need to update and change our practice. It is important to recognise and embrace this for the positive impact it will have.
As far as opportunity for the future goes, personally I feel we should be seizing the initiative at this time, rather than sneezing at it.
If you have questions then submit your comments below, you can also sign up to the Subject Updates and receive up-to-date email information about resources and support and follow us on Twitter @OCR_ICT.
If you have any immediate queries regarding our Computer Science and ICT qualifications, then please email ComputerScience@ocr.org.uk or call our Customer Support Centre on 01223 553 998.
Ceredig Cattanach-Chell - Subject Specialist - Computer science
Ceredig joined OCR in September 2015 incorporating his breadth of experience from education to support the reform and development of the new GCSE 9-1 Computer Science and Entry Level R354. A keen advocate of the challenges faced within the classroom, Ceredig led on concept and delivery of the delivery of the new Teacher Delivery Packs, which have become one of the flagships for the new GCSE’s success with teachers.
Prior to joining OCR, Ceredig has had eight years of educational and teaching experience across a wide range of schools, including primary, secondary, academies and SEN sectors. Ceredig has a degree in computer science from Liverpool University and a PGCE from Liverpool Hope.
Outside of work, Ceredig is a keen modeller/painter, gamer and all-around geek. From wildlife to war games, his varied hobbies ensure that he is never just ‘sitting down watching the box’.