Below is a copy of the email that I sent out to the parents of the students involved in my “Girls in Computing” focus group:
I am writing to you because I believe your daughter would enjoy taking Computing as one of her GCSE choices next year.
This GCSE Computing course is proving very popular, with an increasing number of students choosing to study it each year since its introduction (both nationally and at Perins) in 2011. We are getting very positive feedback from parents and students – it is often listed as a “favourite subject” during discussion at Parents’ Evenings. Sadly, however, there is a significant gender imbalance and I am trying to address this (also national) problem in our school.
School “ICT” courses have typically involved software skills training, often focusing on office software such as Word and Excel. Over the past couple of years this approach has received a lot of criticism and there is now a national move, backed by the government, towards Computer Science in schools. This is because:
· it is more useful to employers than mere software training (it develops a deeper understanding).
· computational thinking skills can be applied elsewhere (breaking a problem into logical steps).
· it is a “science” and so recognised as a high-quality academic subject (included amongst the science subjects in the Ebacc and held in high regard by Colleges and Universities).
This BBC news article has some more information about these recent curriculum changes: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-16493929
I have evidence that students with strong logical thinking skills do well in GCSE Computing, and I have identified a small group of girls in Year 8 who are the most “logical” thinkers (based on data from Cognitive Ability Tests taken in Year 7). Your daughter is one of these students and the group has taken part in some voluntary activities this year, to give them increased awareness of Computer Science as a school subject. I hope that a number of them, including your daughter, will consider taking GCSE Computing next year.
You can find out more about the GCSE Computing course through the following web links:
http://www.perins.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/E-booklet-2013.pdf (Perins GCSE choices booklet)
http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/gcse-computing-j275-from-2012/ (exam board website)
If you have any questions about the course, I would be very happy to answer them in person at the forthcoming parent evenings or by email. Please do not hesitate to get in touch.
I have had some positive responses from parents, including the one below:
Thanks for your email. We spoke at the Choices evening and I am pleased to say that Holly is very keen to take GCSE Computing! She will be following in my footsteps as I did Computer Studies O Level many many years ago and then had 12 years in IT outsourcing. A successful career I have only recently advanced on from! Both my husband and I worked for ICL/ Fujitsu and others so it’s probably in her blood. Anyway, she is very keen, so count her in
I am hopeful that engaging parents in this way will increase the chances of these girls considering studying Computing next year!