Narrowing the Gender Gap: Encouraging girls to take GCSE Computing

As part of a Middle Leader Development Programme I am currently enrolled in, I have been asked to identify some work I can do at school under the title “Narrowing the Gap”.

Since we have implemented so many changes to the KS3 & KS4 ICT curriculum this year (following the Wolf review of vocational qualifications and the introduction of GCSE Computing) it is not going to be possible to compare student attainment data between this year and the last.

As an alternative I have decided to focus instead on narrowing the “gender gap” that many schools and colleges witness in Computer Science. As I have previously posted, the numbers of girls choosing our GCSE Computing course at school is very limited, but those that have are thoroughly enjoying it.

I hope to encourage more girls to choose the GCSE Computing course this year as they move from Key Stage 3 to Key Stage 4. My initial plan is divided into four sections:

  1. Identification
  2. Intervention
  3. Communication
  4. Measurement

Firstly I will use data to identify a group of girls in Key Stage 3 that I think would enjoy/do well at the GCSE Computing course. Retrospective data analysis shows that the students who opt for GCSE Computing have high scores for non-verbal reasoning & numeracy, and so this will the initial basis for identification.

Secondly, I will work with industry and academic outreach contacts to arrange some taster activities that will give the girls an insight into Computer Science, and the possible career paths that it could lead to.

Communication with parents is important, and I will use email to inform them of this project and to give some details of the taster activities. I might also arrange a face-to-face information session for parents if time allows.

Hopefully these interventions will increase the number of girls who choose to take GCSE Computing from September 2013 (this will be the primary measure of success). I will also develop a focus group survey to see if the intervention strategies have modified opinions of Computer Science (the practical limitations of a school timetable and the new English Baccalaureate could prevent even enthusiastic students from choosing this GCSE).

This is not the finalised plan, I still have to complete a proper MLDP Action Planning exercise and formally agree it with my headteacher, but hopefully this will at least attempt to address a fairly widespread issue. Watch this space!

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