REINTRODUCING PROGRAMMING TO THE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT
This extended abstract summarizes a regional widening access University initiative to reintroduce computing programming back into Schools via providing an enhanced eLearning course.
UK Government led School league tables during the late 1990s and 2000s led Schools to move away from “more difficult” subjects to ensure excellent exam performance. Within Computer Science this resulted in Secondary Schools moving away from Computer Science at both GCSE (16 year olds) and GCE (18 year olds) to ICT based subjects. This resulted in a generation of school children not being exposed to computer programming until University.
Within our own department we found this dramatically affected our retention rates as students who had studied ICT at school (MS Word, Powerpoint, Excel and so forth) came onto a Computer Science degree to then struggle with programming and indeed in some cases feel they had made the wrong choice. This resulted in our department having the worst retention rates in the University. In addition to this, over time it limited what we could realistically do in year one at University. With substantial effort being put into first year support we eventually came to the conclusion that we needed to work with the schools directly to counter the “ICT effect”.
The full paper, if accepted, will report on the initiative; the online course, the interaction with Schools and the results.
To inspire one teacher is to reach a generation of students, we should never underestimate the benefit of running Train the Trainer courses which instruct and encourage teachers in their work as educators of our young people.”
Ruth Foster, Head of Computing, Wallace High