Social Responsibility

Leading National Drive to Transform Computing in Schools

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 13:58:00 BST

The University of Manchester is at the forefront of a national drive to transform the teaching of computing in schools. In 2012, the University’s Professor Steve Furber chaired a Royal Society project which published a report that recommended a move from teaching IT to teaching Computer Science in schools. These changes were immediately enacted by the Government, resulting in an urgent need for training of teachers in secondary education - and Manchester has been at the forefront of this from the outset. The model adopted is of regional centres that support ‘Master Teachers’, who then guide other teachers in the region.

Manchester’s Dr David Rydeheard led the challenge of helping schools to teach the new curriculum. As a result, The University’s School of Computer Science is now the North West Regional Centre for Computing At School. Over £200k of funding from the Department for Education pays for three staff members who have school-teaching experience and are managing the outreach to schools in the region.

The Centre is supporting teachers to become Master Teachers, and there are now 50 in the North West. It is now working with over 2,000 teachers in schools to develop exciting computer science teaching in primary schools, secondary schools and colleges. This involves around 80 students trained in outreach running one‐off events, through to full‐year engagement with schools and final-year projects developing teaching resources for use in secondary schools.

The Centre provides training events for teachers throughout the school year, as well as exciting activities for schoolchildren to help them to appreciate the science and creativity inherent in the subject. This outreach activity has engaged the enthusiasm of students at The University of Manchester, has supported the region’s primary and secondary schools to rise to the major challenge of teaching new programmes, and has created a close relationship between the University and schools across the North West.

Dr David Rydeheard, Senior Lecturer in the School of Computer Science said: “Universities are well placed to support schools in their need to upgrade the teaching of computing, and The University of Manchester has led the way in this, both nationally and in our own region. These are exciting times for computing education, with many new ways of teaching the subject, especially using new technologies such as robots, drones and virtual reality.”

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