At Nottingham Trent University we have been delivering and supporting the training of Computer teachers (and all those aiming and training to be Computing teachers who are doing their best to cope with the change in curriculum) through our work as the Computing At School (CAS) Regional Centre (CRC) East Midlands.
We have seen first-hand how teachers are fighting to upskill, learning new theory, how to program and the pedagogy of teaching programming, with little (if any) prior experience. It is all very well introducing a new curriculum, but many teachers do not have a background in Computing and are striving to teach themselves subject matter that many have little or no experience of. At the CRC we have been running training events with Master Teachers to reach as wide an audience as possible, to give every Computing teacher, ICT teacher and all teachers who have been drafted in to teach computing, the opportunity to access this support.
The one problem we have encountered is the lack of numbers coming to the training that is being put on. We know, and sympathise, with how busy teachers are and have tried putting on training on a variety of different times to try and accommodate teachers, but the teachers do not have the time to attend these external training sessions – even if and when they know they need the training and support. Plus, getting days out of busy schools can be difficult if not impossible.
This year, we are going to try something different. With the new GCSE and A-level specifications increasing the Computer Science knowledge, we are arranging three 1-day KS4 training events, that will aim to cover the whole KS4 curriculum, one day each term. Teachers can come to one day, or all three and have the opportunity to explore the topics and gain an understanding of the theory from Master Teachers who are willing to share their experience. Should this prove successful, we will explore extending this to A-level, to support teachers making the transition from GCSE to A-level with their students.
Instead of running many individual courses that appeal to the needs of some teachers and not others, risking a small number of attendees, we are going to trial a consultancy service this academic year. Any school within the East Midlands CRC area can contact the consultancy service with a request for support with anything to do with Computing and Computer Science. For example:
- A primary school would like to make use of robots within the classroom
- A school would like further cross-curricular Computing taught
- A secondary school is introducing A-level Computer Science and needs support with some of the theory elements
- A teacher has been asked to pick up GCSE Computer Science and has no knowledge of how to program
Once they have contacted us, we can discuss their needs in more detail and then match them with one (or more where applicable) Master Teachers within our area to provide this consultancy. We are hoping that this will allow teachers to get the tailored support they need, to help improve their confidence, and the teaching of Computer Science of all year groups. This consultancy service will be launched soon and we are looking forward to helping our first school in the near future.
Details will be uploaded to our website as soon as they are released: www.cascrceastmidlands.com