"Computing is a life skill" say new computing teachers ready to inspire children

25 June 2014

Today, 50 trainee teachers who received the first computing scholarships are celebrating the end of their teacher training courses and looking forward to the start of their new careers in schools around the UK. The scholarship scheme is administered by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, in partnership with the Department for Education, with the aim of helping to meet the growing need for computing teachers.

Bill Mitchell, BCS Director of Education says: “It’s great to be celebrating the first cohort of teaching scholars who have successfully completed their computing teacher training. These new teachers are going into schools this September at the start of the new Computing curriculum with the skills and knowledge needed to inspire future generations and ensure they have an excellent computing education. BCS is very grateful for all the support from the employers supporting the scheme without whom it could not have happened.”

The newly trained teachers cite a variety of reasons for opting for a career delivering the new computing curriculum including helping children to learn to think logically and develop life skills that will enable them to be problem solvers, creators and innovators (see end of release for quotes from scholars).

Education Minister Matthew Hancock said: “Technology is everywhere and it is vital that children understand how to make it work for them. Our rigorous new computing curriculum will teach children real skills including programming, coding and how to create applications for smartphones.

“To make this possible we must have high-quality educators in our schools, which is why the Government has invested more than £3million in support and training, increased scholarships for computing teachers and teamed up with the sector to provide schemes like this.

“This first group of BCS scholars, drawn from a range of backgrounds including the computing industry, will now take their passion and expertise into the classroom to inspire young people and give them the skills they need to succeed in the modern world.”

Of the 311 applications received by the Institute for the scholarships, 79% held a degree in a computing-related subject, 46% were career changers having graduated with their first degree 5 years or more ago and the gender split was 33% female, 67% male.

Paul Clarke, Director of Technology for Ocado, one of the industry partners of the scheme, says: “We’d like to congratulate these first scholars. It’s great to see the genuine passion they have for computer science as a subject and for teaching as a vocation, this is vitally important. Teaching children to program is not just about nurturing the next generation of software engineers, being able to write code is a transformative and disruptive meta-skill that needs to be seen as being of huge potential value whatever your future holds. I would go so far as to say that it is a survival skill that our children need to acquire to flourish in the increasingly digital and online future that awaits them.”

A selection of scholar quotes:

Judith Dixon
I love my subject and see it as a life skill rather than just a curriculum subject. The skills needed for computing will develop problem solving abilities and being able to think from cause to effect as well as developing creative thinking and experiential skills. There are so many aspects to it which can be taught in a variety of creative ways. 

Richard Johnson
Having worked in the software industry for 14 years, I decided to make the switch to teaching due to the exciting opportunity it presents to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for computing and learning. The changes to the curriculum which introduced more challenging, interesting topics confirmed in my mind that now was the right time to make the move.

James Wardle
Being given the chance to teach people something you are passionate about and having them both learn something from it and actively engage with it is a fantastic feeling and I feel privileged to be in a position to be able to do this.

Farrah Abbas Sheikh
Having a passion for technology and teaching, being a Computing teacher seemed a natural choice! After graduation, I decided to gain some industrial experience to better my subject knowledge and for a valuable insight to bring into the classroom. My time in the industry, as enlightening as it was, reinforced my decision to become a teacher. I love working with young people, and the satisfaction that I get from teaching and inspiring students is truly amazing and I hope to make a difference.

The scheme is currently running for the second year, with up to 100 scholarships available and an increase in the amount available to each scholar. Full details of the criteria including how to register an interest for the scholarships can be found at: www.bcs.org/teachingscholarships and http://www.education.gov.uk/get-into-teaching

The computing scholarship scheme was launched in 2013. It is run in conjunction with the National College for Teaching and Leadership on behalf of the Department for Education. The aim is to encourage more people into teaching computing. It is supported by a large number of schools and industry partners and forms part of a programme to help develop future computer science Master Teachers who will lead innovation both within their own school and in collaboration with other schools. Scholarships are only available to those taking their teacher training in England.

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