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BCS Wants 250 Schools For ICT Teaching Network

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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350 schools will be invited to share teaching practices and materials as part of wider ICT education reforms

The Chartered Institute for IT (BCS) is looking for 250 schools to sign up for a Network of Teaching Excellence in Computer Science – beiong set up with grass-roots group Computing at Schools (CAS).

Interested schools have until 30 April to sign up and form part of a wider reform of ICT education in schools, due to come into effect in September this year.

Wider reforms

The Institute is sending an information pack to all 3500 state maintained secondary schools in England which will explain the opportunities that the network and the revamped curriculum will provide teachers to develop computer science in schools.

The network will encourage schools to work together to share good teaching practice and will allow for collaboration with university computer science departments to improve the teaching materials.

There will be opportunities to showcase teaching practices and experiences at national conferences through online media and multimedia case studies, while participating schools will be consulted for their views and opinions for campaigns related to education policy.

Working together

The BCS will work with CAS, a grass-roots group which has already published a suggested IT curriculum (creative commons, PDF). CAS comes under the BCS Academy umbrell and includes professor Simon Peyton-Jones, head of research at Microsoft, Kevin Bond, chair of examiners for A Level computing at the AQA exam board, and Roger Boyle, professor of computing at Leeds.

“Together with Computing at School, (CAS), the Institute is working to create a network of schools and universities to advance teaching excellence in computer science,” said Bill Mitchell, director of BCS Academy of Computing. “At this point we’re looking for expressions of interest from schools that might like to join. Over the coming years we hope this network will eventually expand to a thousand schools teaching Computer Science at GCSE level.”

“In the initial year of the scheme we hope to provide this service for between two to three hundred schools, and then expand the scheme to another two to three hundred in the second year,” he added. “We intend centres of excellence to become part of a national network for establishing best practice and spearheading innovative teaching in computer science, with ongoing support from the Computing at School group, the universities in the Network and BCS.”

‘Harmful and dull’

Earlier this year, Education Secretary Michael Gove responded to an increasing number of complaints about the standard of ICT education by promising an overhaul that would replace the current programme of study, labelled as “harmful and dull” with one that includes compulsory lessons in computer science and programming.

This followed a promise made by the government last November to introduce more relevant IT skills into the classroom. The Royal Society in particular has been a vocal critic and released a report that bemoaned the lack of specialist ICT teachers in schools.

The new curriculum is likely to appease the UK’s digital, creative and hi-tech industries, all of which have been keen to see coding reintroduced into schools.

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