Hello, my name is Sophie and I am a BCS Computing Scholar currently undertaking my fifth week of Initial Teacher Training in Swindon. Before I jump into the crazy new world of teaching I would first like to tell you how I got here...
My exploration of technology began in secondary school when selecting ICT as one of my GCSE options. Although being the only one in my friendship group to choose ICT, (which resulted in being stubbed a ‘geek’ for a year or two), I was instantly drawn to the subject based on the creativity and possibilities it brings to a wide range of areas. Following on from school, I continued IT at A-Level in college and then further at University where I completed my Undergraduate Degree Information Technology Management for Business (ITMB) at UWE, Bristol. The summer just past I completed my Masters Degree in Computer Science at the University of Bath, which has been my greatest computing challenge to date.
I have now entered the real world of work - where student lie-ins and daytime TV are a thing of the past - but five weeks into my teacher training I am surviving and some may say, even thriving!
I was initially drawn to teaching as a career choice because I liked the idea of making a difference to society by encouraging the young minds of the future. Computer Science is often seen as dull, boring and a bit geeky. But within the current age we live in I believe Computer Science is the most important subject for ALL to be learning.
Within the digital age, technology plays the key role to a range of areas (the examples listed below do not do it justice...)
Technology is empirical to medicinal environments; from doctors exploring new illnesses or surgeons completing life-changing surgeries through AI. Technology is critical within the field of science; it is unlikely we would make ground-breaking breakthroughs or send NASA astronauts into space without it. It is important within media environments; using the latest digital media to produce large-scale productions and create the next big west-end show. It is critical to the world of business using big data and cloud computing to run large corporate organisations, and obviously it important within the technology sector itself; discovering the latest technologies, new app development, software engineering, analysis and much more.
In short, what I am really trying to say is that Computer Science feeds into every area of the modern life so it is advantageous we are on board with it from as early on as possible!
Being a young female, I have an interest in encouraging more females into the sector by promoting the vast amount of opportunities available. Previously I have carried out technological events to inspire young females; I have attended female computing conferences and I have also researched the gender gap in detail - identifying the precise reasons as to why females seem to be battling against the subject.
Now a trainee teacher, I hope to be able to promote my passions in the classroom and set a shift in mind-set to other young females that , within the current time we live in, Computer Science is a fab and fun place to be!
Moving onto the teacher training itself, the past five weeks have been fast-paced, challenging and intriguing. There is a lot more to teaching than initially meets the eye and you must be open to change and the unknown. I would classify myself as a bit of an introvert personality type but even within these initial few weeks I have seen a positive change in myself. I have become more independent, more confident in myself and now view myself as a professional with a rewarding role in society.
In some regards it feels like you are thrown in at the deep end of which I was very wary of at the beginning! But the support from your training team and cohort is phenomenal with everyone cheering you on and wanting you to do your best. You are given multiple support figures; from your training leader, professional mentor, personal mentor and subject mentor. As well as this you are given a mass of materials to build upon and learn from during your training year.
In regard to the BCS Computing Scholarship I applied on impulse after seeing an advertisement about it at my university thinking there is nothing to lose. The application process at the time was not dissimilar to any other job application, a three-step process whereby you;
a) Write a personal statement - based on your reasons for wanting to become a teacher.
b) Invited to a school-based interview - which takes place in a secondary school within your local area.
c) Invited to an industry-based interview - mine was held at Goldman Sachs in Canary Wharf in London (and yes it was as grand as it sounds!).
The school-based interview consisted of teaching a lesson to a class and an informal interview with members of senior management at the secondary school. The industry-based interview consisted of one theoretical task (group-based) and one logic task (individual). The application process from start to end does take a long time so I would suggest applying for the scholarship as early as possible to make sure you are well prepared.
The rewards from the BCS Computing Scholarship have been amazing so far! I am only a few weeks into the academic year and I have already been sent masses of resources including the latest books, magazines and media from the current Computer Science sector. Through my BCS membership I have been invited to member-only webinars, workshops and training days held at various locations throughout the UK. I have also been able to open up my professional network and reach a range of resources and content otherwise not available to me as a ‘standard’ trainee Computer Science teacher.
I urge all budding Computer Science Teachers to apply to the scholarship! By being a BCS Computing Scholar it really puts you one step ahead of the game and makes what is likely to be a challenging year much more reassuring.