Tag Archives: National Centre for Computing Education

Gender Balance in Computing programme opens to all schools in England

Post Syndicated from Sue Sentance original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/gender-balance-in-computing-all-schools-england/

After launching our Gender Balance in Computing programme this April, we have been busy recruiting for two trials within a small group of schools around England.

Today, we are opening general recruitment for the programme. This means that all primary and secondary schools in England can now take part in the upcoming trials in this landmark programme. You can register your interest here. Why not do it right now?

Woman teacher and female students at a computer

What we are doing, and why

Many young women don’t choose to study computing-related subjects. A variety of factors across primary and secondary education are likely to influence this, including girls feeling like they don’t belong in the subject or its community, a lack of sustained encouragement, and a lack of role models in computing when making their career choices. We are working with schools to better understand and help change this.

The Department for Education has recently funded our Gender Balance in Computing (GBIC) research programme, giving us the amazing opportunity to work with schools to investigate different approaches to engage girls in computing and to help increase the number of girls who select Computer Science at GCSE and A level.

Woman teacher and young students at a computer

GBIC is a collaboration between the Raspberry Pi Foundation; STEM Learning; BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT; and the Behavioural Insights Team. It is also part of the National Centre for Computing Education.

Operationally, we will lead the project together with the Behavioural Insights Team, with Apps for Good and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) also contributing to the project. Trials will run in 2019–2022 in Key Stages 1–4, and over 15,000 pupils and 550 schools will be involved. It will be the largest national research effort to tackle gender balance in computing to date!

Which approaches are we trialling?

The different trials in this programme are related to:

  • Non-formal learning
  • Belonging
  • Relevance
  • Teaching approaches

Non-formal learning (Primary and Secondary, Jan 2020 – Mar 2020)

In the non-formal learning trial, which started in September, we seek to strengthen the links between non-formal learning and studying computing at GCSE or A level. The reason for this is that girls are often unaware that their non-formal learning about computing can help them in formal studies. Girls are also better represented in non-formal computing clubs than in formal settings where computing is taught, i.e. they are engaging with computing outside of the classroom, but not in their formal studies. So far in the non-formal learning trial, we have created specific resources for schools running Code Clubs and Apps for Good programmes which signpost the links between non-formal and formal learning of computing, and how these can lead to future career/subject choices later in the participants’ lives.

Belonging (Years 6 and 8, Sep 2020 – Jul 2021)

The belonging trial will tackle girls’ “lack of belonging” because they don’t see themselves represented in computing media coverage. To address this situation, we will work with primary and secondary schools to introduce girls and their parents to positive role models in computer science, deliver testimonials from these role models at key transition points in their education (such as while making their GCSE choices), and encourage the development of peer support networks.

Woman teacher and female student at a laptop
Woman teacher and female students at a computer
Male teacher and female student at a computer

Relevance (Years 6 and 8, Jan 2021 – May 2022)

The relevance trial will look at helping learners to see the real-world applications of learning computing. We will support schools to hold stimulus days that engage pupils by helping them to solve real-world problems through technology. We will also encourage pupils to develop projects that solve problems that are relevant to their local area, home, or classroom. The pupils will be able to further explore the real-world applications of computing through newly written classroom resources.

Teaching Approach (Years 6 and 8, Jan 2021 – May 2022)

The teaching approach trial is based on the idea that current approaches to teaching computing may not be fully inclusive and so may be less appealing to girls. In Key Stage 1, we will trial a “storytelling around computing” approach. In Key Stage 2 and 3, we will explore different types of teaching approaches to assess what the most effective mix is for engaging girls in the subject.

There is also an innovation trial, which we will develop based on any additional promising research pathways that emerge while the GBIC project progresses.

One male and two female teenagers at a computer

Join our GBIC School Network

By joining our programme, you’ll become part of our GBIC School Network.

This will give your school:

  • The chance to participate in projects designed to increase girls’ engagement in computing  although designed to make computing more accessible for girls, all of our projects are designed for whole cohorts at your school to take part in, including boys
  • A bi-monthly GBIC newsletter that will keep you up to date with the project and other news on addressing gender balance in computing
  • Opportunities to participate in events to promote the sharing of best practice and research updates between fellow GBIC School Network schools

As part of the GBIC School Network, your school will need to:

  • Identify a key contact in the school who will liaise with the GBIC School Network and our researchers at Raspberry Pi
  • Send out the information and opt-out consent forms (which we will provide) to parents of pupils in the relevant year groups
  • Deliver the trial materials in line with the project guides; the timeline, delivery model, and types of material will differ depending on the trial

A male teachers and three female students at a computer

Get involved in this landmark programme

  • Register your interest in taking part
  • Send this article to a colleague in a different school and invite them to register their interest
  • If you’re interested in this research but can’t take part, we’d love you to sign up to our bi-monthly newsletter, and to include a link to this article in any newsletters, blog entries, or social media posts you are sharing with teachers

Your support is invaluable — together we can work to improve the gender balance in computing!

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Your new free online training courses for the autumn term

Post Syndicated from Dan Fisher original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/free-online-training-courses-autumn-19/

Over the autumn term, we’ll be launching three brand-new, free online courses on the FutureLearn platform. Wherever you are in the world, you can learn with us for free!

Three people looking facing forward

The course presenters are Pi Towers residents Mark, Janina, and Eirini

Design and Prototype Embedded Computer Systems

The first new course is Design and Prototype Embedded Computer Systems, which will start on 28 October. In this course, you will discover the product design life cycle as you design your own embedded system!

A diagram illustrating the iterative design life cycle with four stages: Analyse, design, build, test

You’ll investigate how the purpose of the system affects the design of the system, from choosing its components to the final product, and you’ll find out more about the design of an algorithm. You will also explore how embedded systems are used in the world around us. Book your place today!

Programming 103: Saving and Structuring Data

What else would you expect us to call the sequel to Programming 101 and Programming 102? That’s right — we’ve made Programming 103: Saving and Structuring Data! The course will begin on 4 November, and you can reserve your place now.

Illustration of a robot reading a book called 'human 2 binary phrase book'

Programming 103 explores how to use data across multiple runs of your program. You’ll learn how to save text and binary files, and how structuring data is necessary for programs to “understand” the data that they load. You’ll look at common types of structured files such as CSV and JSON files, as well as how you can connect to a SQL database to use it in your Python programs.

Introduction to Encryption and Cryptography

The third course, Introduction to Encryption and Cryptography, is currently in development, and therefore coming soon. In this course, you’ll learn what encryption is and how it was used in the past, and you’ll use the Caesar and Vigenère ciphers.

The Caesar cipher is a type of substitution cipher

You’ll also look at modern encryption and investigate both symmetric and asymmetric encryption schemes. The course also shows you the future of encryption, and it includes several practical encryption activities, which can be used in the classroom too.

National Centre for Computing Education

If you’re a secondary school teacher in England, note that all of the above courses count towards your Computer Science Accelerator Programme certificate.

Group shot of the first NCCE GCSE accelerator graduates

The very first group of teachers who earned Computer Science Accelerator Programme certificates: they got to celebrate their graduation at Google HQ in London.

What’s been your favourite online course this year? Tell us about it in the comments.

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Say hello to Isaac Computer Science

Post Syndicated from Dan Fisher original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/say-hello-to-isaac-computer-science/

We are delighted to co-launch Isaac Computer Science, a new online platform for teachers and students of A level Computer Science.

Introducing Isaac Computer Science

Introducing the new Isaac Computer Science online learning platform and calendar of free events for students and teachers. Be the first to know about new features and content on the platform: Twitter – ncce.io/ytqstw Instagram – ncce.io/ytqsig Facebook – ncce.io/ytqsfb If you are a teacher, you may also be interested in our free online training courses for GCSE Computer Science teachers.

The project is a collaboration between the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the University of Cambridge, and is funded by the Department for Education’s National Centre for Computing Education programme.

Isaac Computer Science

Isaac Computer Science gives you access to a huge range of online learning materials for the classroom, homework, and revision — all for free.

The platform’s resources are mapped to the A level specifications in England (including the AQA and OCR exam boards). You’ll be able to set assignments for your students, have the platform mark it for you, and be confident that the content is relevant and high quality. We are confident that this will save you time in planning lessons and setting homework.

“Computer Science is a relatively small subject area and teachers across the country often work alone without the support of colleagues. Isaac Computer Science will build a teaching and learning community to support teachers at all levels and will offer invaluable support to A level students in their learning journey. As an experienced teacher, I am very excited to have the opportunity to work on this project.”
– Diane Dowling, Isaac Computer Science Learning Manager and former teacher

And that’s not all! To further support you, we are also running free student workshops and teacher CPD events at universities and schools around England. Tickets for the events are available to book through the Isaac Computer Science website.

“Isaac Computer Science helped equip me with the skills to teach A level, and ran a great workshop at one of their recent Discovery events using the micro:bit and the Kitronik :MOVE mini. This is a session that I’ll definitely be using again and again.”
 – James Spencer, Computer Science teacher at St Martin’s School

A teacher works with her students at our recent Discovery event in Cambridge.

Why sign up?

Isaac Computer Science provides:

  • High-quality materials written by experienced teachers
  • Resources mapped to the AQA and OCR specifications
  • CPD events for teachers
  • Workshops for students

Isaac Computer Science allows you to:

  • Plan lessons around high-quality content pages, thus saving time
  • Select and set self-marking homework questions
  • Pinpoint areas to work on with your students
  • Manage students’ progress in your personal markbook

Start using Isaac Computer Science today:

  • Sign up at isaaccomputerscience.org
  • Request a teacher account and register your students
  • Start using the platform in your classroom!

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It’s GCSE results day!

Post Syndicated from Dan Fisher original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/its-gcse-results-day/

Today is GCSE results day, and with it comes the usual amount of excitement and trepidation as thousands of young people in the UK find out whether they got the grades they wanted. So here’s a massive CONGRATULATIONS from everyone at the Raspberry Pi Foundation to all the students out there who have worked so hard to get their GCSEs, A levels, BTECs, IBs, and a host of other qualifications.

We also want to highlight the efforts of the amazing teachers who have spent countless hours thinking up new ways to bring their subjects to life and inspire the next generation.

Looking at the initial data from the Department for Education, it’s clear that:

  • The number of students entering the Computer Science GCSE has gone up by 7.6%, so this is the sixth year running that the subject has gained popularity — great news!
  • The number of girls entering the Computer Science GCSE has grown by 14.5% compared to last year!
  • The proportion of Computer Science GCSE students achieving top grades (9 to 7) has gone up, and there’s been an even bigger increase in the proportion achieving a good pass (9 to 4) — amazing!

Views from teachers

From L to R: Rebecca Franks, Allen Heard, Ben Garside, Carrie Anne Philbin

I caught up with four former teachers on our team to reflect on these findings and their own experiences of results days…

What thoughts and emotions are going through your head as a teacher on results day?

Ben: It’s certainly a nerve-wracking time! You hope that your students have reached the potential that you know that they are capable of. You log onto the computer the second you wake up to see if you’ve got access to the exam boards results page yet. It was always great being there to see their faces, to give them a high five, and to support them with working out their options going forward.

Rebecca: I think that head teachers want you to be worried about targets and whether you’ve met them, but as a teacher, when you look at each individual students’ results, you see their journey, and you know how much effort they’ve put in. You are just really proud of how well they have done, and it’s lovely to have those post-results conversations and celebrate with them. It makes it all worth it.

Allen: I liken the feeling to that of an expectant father! You have done as much as you can to make sure things run smoothly, you’ve tried to keep all those involved calm, and now the moment is here and you just want everything to be OK.

Carrie Anne: As a teacher, I always felt both nerves and excitement for results day, probably more so than my students did. Sleepless nights in the run-up to the big day were common! But I always enjoyed seeing my students, who I’d worked with since they were youngsters, see the culmination of their hard work into something useful. I always felt proud of them for how far they’d come.

There has been an increased uptake of students taking computing-related subjects at GCSE since last year. What do you think about this?

Ben: It’s great news and shows that schools are realising how important the subject is to prepare our young people for the future workplace.

Carrie Anne: It’s a sign that our message — that all students should have access to a Computing qualification of rigour, and that there is a willing and ready audience hungry for the opportunity to study Computing at a deeper level — is making traction. My hope is to see this number increase as teachers take part in the free National Centre for Computing Education professional development and certification over the coming years.

Rebecca: I think it’s a step in the right direction, but we definitely have a long way to go. We must make sure that computing is at the forefront of any curriculum model in our secondary schools, which is why the National Centre for Computing Education is so important. In particular, we must support schools in ensuring that KS3 computing is given the time it needs to give students the grounding for GCSE.

Allen: I agree with Rebecca: more needs to be done about teacher training and helping schools see the overall benefit to students in undertaking such subjects. Schools that are investing time in nurturing these subjects in their curriculum provision are seeing them become more popular and enjoying success. Patience is the key for senior leadership teams, and teachers need support and to have confidence in their ability to continue to deliver the subject.

Why is it important that more students learn about computing?

Rebecca: Computing feeds into so much of our everyday lives, and we must prepare our young people for a world that doesn’t exist yet. Computing teaches you logical thinking and problem-solving. These skills are transferable and can be used in all sorts of situations. Computing also teaches you essential digital literacy skills that can help you keep safe whilst using online tools.

Ben: For me, it’s really important that young people pick this subject to help them understand the world around them. They’ll hopefully then be able to see the potential of computing as a power for good and harness it, rather than becoming passive consumers of technology.

Carrie Anne: Following on from what Ben said, I also think it’s important that technology developed in the future reflects the people and industries using it. The tech industry needs to become more diverse in its workforce, and non-technical fields will begin to use more technology in the coming years. If we equip young people with a grounding in computing, they will be equipped to enter these fields and find solutions to technical solutions without relying on a small technical elite.

Imagine I’m a GCSE student who has just passed my Computer Science exams. What resources should I look at if I want to learn more about computing with the Raspberry Pi Foundation for free?

Rebecca: Isaac Computer Science would be the best place to start, because it supports students through their A level Computer Science. If you wanted to experiment and try some physical computing, then you could take a look at the Projects page of the Raspberry Pi Foundation website. You can filter this page by ‘Software type: Python’ and find some ideas to keep you occupied!

Allen: First and foremost, I would advise you to keep your hard-earned coding skills on point, as moving on to the next level of complexity can be a shock. Now is the time to start building on your already sound knowledge and get prepared for A level Computer Science in September. Isaac Computer Science would be a great place to start to undertake some further learning over the summer and prime yourself for further study.

Ben: Same as Rebecca and Allen, I’d be telling you to get started with Isaac Computer Science too. The resources that are being provided for free are second to none, and will really help you get a good feel for what A level Computer Science is all about.

Carrie Anne: Beyond the Raspberry Pi projects site and Isaac Computer Science, I’d recommend getting some face-to-face experience. Every year the Python community holds a conference that’s open to everyone. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people and learn new skills. PyConUK 2019 is taking place in September and has bursaries to support people in full-time education to attend.

We’ve been working on providing support for secondary and GCSE teachers as part of the National Centre for Computing Education this year. Could you talk about the support we’ve got available?

Allen: We’re producing resources to cover the whole range of topics that appear in all the Computing/Computer Science specifications. The aim of these resources is to provide teachers — both experienced and new to the subject — with the support they need to deliver quality, engaging lessons. Founded on sound pedagogical principles and created by a number of well-established teachers, these resources will help reduce workload and increase productivity for teachers, and increase engagement of students. This will ultimately result in some fantastic out-turns for schools, as well as developing confident computing teachers along the way.

Rebecca: As Allen explained, we are busy creating new, free teaching resources for KS3 and GCSE. The units will cover the national curriculum and beyond, and the lessons will be fully resourced. They will be accessible to teachers with varying levels of experience, and there will be lots of support along the way through online courses and face-to-face training if teachers want to know more. Teachers can already take our ‘CS Accelerator’ programme, which is extremely popular and has excellent reviews.

Thanks for your time, everyone!

How was your GCSE results day? Are your students, or young people you know, receiving their results today? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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‘Gender Balance in Computing’ research project launch

Post Syndicated from Sue Sentance original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/gender-balance-in-computing-research-project-launch/

I am excited to reveal that a consortium of partners has been awarded £2.4 million for a new research project to investigate how to engage more girls in computing, as part of our work with the National Centre for Computing Education. The award comes at a crucial time in computing education, after research by the University of Roehampton and the Royal Society recently found that only 20% of computing candidates for GCSE and 10% for A level Computer Science were girls.

The project will investigate ways to make computing more inclusive.

The project

‘Gender Balance in Computing’ is a collaboration between the consortium of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, STEM Learning, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, and the Behavioural Insights Team. Our partners, Apps for Good and WISE, will also be working on the project. Trials will run from 2019–2022 in Key Stages 1–4, and more than 15,000 students and 550 schools will be involved. It will be the largest national research effort to tackle this issue to date!

Our research around gender balance has many synergies with the work of the wider National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE) programme, which also focuses on pedagogy and widening participation. We will also be working with NCCE Computing Hubs when planning and implementing the trials.

How it will work

‘Gender Balance in Computing’ will develop and roll out several projects that aim to increase the number of girls choosing to study a computing subject at GCSE and A level. The consortium has already identified some of the possible reasons why a large percentage of girls don’t consider computing as the right choice for further study and potential careers. These include: feeling that they don’t belong in the subject; not being sufficiently encouraged; and feeling that computing is not relevant to them. We will go on to research and pilot a series of new interventions, with each focusing on addressing a different barrier to girls’ participation.

We will also trial initiatives such as more inclusive pedagogical approaches to teaching computing to facilitate self-efficacy, and relating informal learning opportunities, which are often popular with girls, to computing as an academic subject or career choice.

Signposting the links between informal and formal learning is one of the interventions that will be trialled.

Introducing our partners

WISE works to increase the participation, contribution, and success of women in the UK’s scientific, technology, and engineering (STEM) workforce. Since 1984, they have supported young women into careers in STEM, and are committed to raising aspirations and awareness for girls in school to help them achieve their full potential. In the past three years, their programmes have inspired more than 13,500 girls.

The Behavioural Insights Team have worked with governments, local authorities, businesses and charities to tackle major policy problems. They generate and apply behavioural insights to inform policy and improve public services.

Apps for Good has impacted more than 130,000 young people in 1500 schools and colleges across the UK since their foundation in 2010. They are committed to improving diversity within the tech sector, engaging schools within deprived and challenging contexts, and enthusing girls to pursue a pathway in computing; in 2018, 56% of students participating in an Apps for Good programme were female.

“A young person’s location, background, or gender should never be a barrier to their future success. Apps for Good empowers young people to change their world through technology, and we have a strong track record of engaging girls in computing. We are excited to be a part of this important work to create, test, and scale solutions to inspire more girls to pursue technology in education. We look forward to helping to build a more diverse talent pool of future tech creators.” Sophie Ball & Natalie Moore, Co-Managing Directors, Apps for Good

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has a strong track record for inclusion through our informal learning programmes: out of the 375,000 children who attended a Code Club or a CoderDojo in 2018, 140,000 (37%) were girls. This disparity between the gender balance in informal learning and the imbalance in formal learning is one of the things our new research project will be investigating.

The challenge of encouraging more girls to take up computing has long been a concern, and overcoming it will be critical to ensuring that the nation’s workforce is suitably skilled to work in an increasingly digital world. I’m therefore very proud to be working with this group of excellent organisations on this important research project (and on such a scale!). Together, we have the opportunity to rigorously trial a range of evidence-informed initiatives to improve the gender balance in computing in primary and secondary schools.

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