In March, the BCS Academy of Computing and Computing at School (CAS) sent an information pack (zipped) to every state secondary school in England, in order to explain the opportunities they would have from September 2012 to develop Computer Science as a rigorous academic component within a reformed ICT curriculum. The supporting materials in the information pack provides comprehensive information that should help head teachers and school governors make the right decisions:
- Covering letter, explaining the current situation and key strategic choices for schools to teach Computer Science;
- A summary of the Royal Society report Computing in Schools: Shut down or restart?;
- Computer Science as a school subject, draws on the experience of CAS and explains what Computer Science is, and why it is strategically important;
- Computer Science: A curriculum for schools, is the CAS curriculum for Computer Science, mentioned by Michael Gove in January’s BETT speech, written by a group of teachers, academics and industry researchers, and endorsed by BCS, Microsoft, Google and Intellect;
- As examples of the wealth of high-quality material that is available to support Computer Science teaching, copies of the latest CAS newsletter and cs4fn magazine.
Alongside the information pack was the announcement of the Network of Computer Science Teaching Excellence, to create a network of schools and universities across the UK to advance teaching excellence in Computer Science. Schools that are members of the network of excellence will:
- be offered enhanced and heavily subsidised CPD for a teacher in their school;
- be part of a regional teaching hub for sharing good practice and offering grassroots organised CPD;
- have regular contact with university Computer Science departments to support and inspire teaching material;
- be expected to teach Computer Science at Key Stage 3 or 4 as a catalyst for a renewed Computing curriculum as recommended by the Royal Society, which is benchmarked against the CAS curriculum;
- have opportunities for showcasing their teaching practices and experiences at national conferences;
- be proactively consulted for their views and opinions for future campaigns related to education policy.
The centres of excellence would become part of a national network for establishing best practice and spearheading innovative teaching in Computer Science, with ongoing support from CAS, the universities in the network and BCS. We need key schools spread across the UK to kickstart this initiative; as you can see from the map below (click for a live update), it has already generated a huge amount of interest, with over 400 schools registering interest.
The Network of Computer Science Teaching Excellence is open to all schools across the UK — register your interest here* and spread the word; by creating this national network and providing effective CPD for teachers, there is a prime opportunity to have a profound effect on Computer Science education in the UK.
*there will be some flexibility on the 30th April deadline…
As you can see from the map above, we need more schools in Wales to register their interest! CAS Wales (as well as Technocamps) are ready to support schools across Wales; please drop me an email if you want to have a chat about joining the network.
It really doesn’t help that N. Ireland and Scotland are partially obscured on the map. It sends the wrong signal – namely that the BCS/CAS Network is focused on England (and possibly Wales) – and given the strength of CS teaching in some Scottish schools, this is not desirable.
Totally agree David — the Network of Excellence is open to the whole of the UK, not just England.
The main reason why the mass is centered around England is because the funding from Microsoft and Intellect only covered sending the information pack to all state-maintained secondary schools in England. I am currently finalising a letter to send to all secondary schools in Wales and I believe my colleagues in CAS Scotland are doing the same. But we need to make sure that it is clear to schools in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland that this opportunity is available to them (in fact, I’ve edited the post to make this clearer).
(And on a final technical note, the sizing of the screenshot was due to problems of balancing granularity and readability of the nodes in Google Maps!)
Hi, I am keen to get more information on this as I support a number of schools in the West Midlands. I was inspired by the conference today. Thanks to all. Richard
This is really great success.
I have recently heard many great things about computer schools in India. I wander is this the case in other developing countries? Does anyone knows how African computer schools compare to rest of the world?
Good question; there are some comprehensive reports on international CS education from the CSTA and CAS, but little on developing nations.
The only information I could find was this New York Times article from December 2011 on computer science in Uganda.
Further to the September launch, there is more information on the Network of Computer Science Teaching Excellence on the CAS website.