Moving away from one-day training courses

I am very supportive of the new more technical Computing curriculum introduced to UK schools in September 2014, but I am also very aware that there are a large number of non-technical secondary school teachers who are faced with delivering this new really-quite-technical subject to several classes of children. And of course all primary teachers now have to add “computer programmer” to their never-ending list of skills and talents!

The introduction of the new Computing curriculum has generated a clear need for training (or “Continued Professional Development” as it is called in education circles) to support teachers as they get to grips with (and hopefully appreciate the value of) Computer Science. As a “CAS Master Teacher” (appointed by the Computing At School organisation) I am involved in offering training and support to teachers in my local area.

My anecdotal observation over the past year is that most support for the new Computing curriculum appears to be in the form of “one-off” training courses; quite often expensive one-day mini-conferences. Although this training is clearly better than nothing, I am not convinced that a single day of Python programming is really enough to make a teacher without any programming experience feel competent or confident!

A selection of flyers from one-day Computing training events being offered in 2014

I wanted to do something different, and so this academic year I am working the lead/hub school in my local “teaching school alliance” to provide a six-month long programme of training sessions that aims to cover most elements of the GCSE Computing curriculum. I expect this approach to offer a benefits that one-day events simply do not, such as:

  • A more specific focus for each session (rather than attempting to cover everything in one day)
  • An opportunity for teachers to “try things out” in their own classrooms between sessions
  • The chance for teachers to ask any questions that might have arisen from previous sessions
  • The forming of a small “support community/network” where teachers will meet others in a similar position to themselves.

It remains to be seen if this more sustained approach to supporting the delivery of the new Computing curriculum will be exactly what is needed, but it was of interest to PC Pro magazine and got a mention in their October 2014 issue.

Details of the “LEARN Computing” course (which begins in early October 2014) are available on the LEARN Alliance website.

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