In April, I sent a Strategic Information Pack (zipped) to all state-maintained secondary schools and colleges in Wales (following on from a similar exercise 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 provided comprehensive information that would help head teachers, principals and school governors make the right decisions:
- Covering letter for schools (English, Cymraeg) and colleges (English, Cymraeg), 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, 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 Wales to advance teaching excellence in Computer Science. Schools that are members of the network would:
- be offered enhanced and heavily subsidised CPD for a teacher in their school;
- be part of a regional teaching hub (see CAS Hubs in Wales) for sharing good practice and offering grassroots organised CPD;
- have regular contact with university Computer Science departments across Wales 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 in Wales would become part of a wider UK network for establishing best practice and spearheading innovative teaching in Computer Science, with ongoing support from CAS, the universities in the network and BCS; it has already generated a huge amount of interest, with over 500 schools across the UK applying.
It is not too late to join the Network of Excellence: we need leading schools from across the Wales to drive forward this initiative. Please contact me for further information.
(N.B. I would like to say a massive thanks to the Technocamps project for their financial and logistical support in getting the Strategic Information Pack sent out to school and colleges in the run up to our joint conference this week)