We have, for the last two years, been extremely focused on the issue of the teaching of Computer Science in secondary schools. Many of the members of the Education Committee (EC) have been deeply involved in this, particularly those who are also on the various Computing at Schools (CAS) groups and committees. However, we have now reached the point where we need to develop and extend the range of activities the EC is involved in, especially since the success in getting Computer Science into the GCSE/A-level/EBacc curricula creates a number of other issues.
As I said some months ago, my plan once the website was active was to populate it with discussions on relevant topics amongst the EC members, allowing the broader membership of the Academy to both see what is exercising our thinking at any given time, and also to provide opportunities for comment. So, we now need to start this process, which is the purpose of this blog, and I will also email members of the EC to arrange an online meeting sometime in the next month. I appreciate that all of the members of the EC are volunteers and, as such, have limited time available for these extra-work activities. That motivated the decision not to extend the activities of EC while there was so much activity around the Computer Science in Schools agenda and, whilst I appreciate that has not gone away, I believe we do now need to divert some of that capability and energy to other issues.
Since CAS officially reports into the Academy through EC, we can ensure that the activities we develop and undertake are complementary to the ongoing efforts in CAS, and use information from their activities where useful and/or necessary. We will need to extend the membership of EC to include members from currently unrepresented groups, such as FE lecturers, commercial trainers and industrial employers, but it was always envisaged that we would seek members from these groups to ensure a full representation from all those involved in Computer Science education in the UK. Whilst I have some contacts already under way for this, I would appreciate any suggestions or contacts from members of the EC.
In terms of the actual agenda for the next 18 months for the EC, I would suggest that we at least need to establish policy and practice views on the following:
- Impact of CS teaching at schools on FE admission, courses and curricula
- Impact of CS teaching at schools on HE admission, courses and curricula
- Relationship of FE & HE courses to Apprenticeship / Higher Apprenticeship
- FE / HE interface
- Support for National Placement scheme, or coordination of local placement schemes
- Issues of Internship schemes, both paid and unpaid
- Employer entry-level training schemes in CS, including graduate entry schemes
- Support for CPD training, and teacher training, at all levels
- Relationship of formal education and training courses to SFIA framework
- Accreditation of non-credit and credit bearing short courses / training
- Development of professional role and skills specifications with employers
- Requirements for graduate employment training v. Postgraduate qualifications
- Private / industrial funding for qualification
- Use of Charter updates to maintain currency of academic and professional staff
- National standards for certification of specialist courses
- Relationship with sector skills councils
- Coordination of activities with specialist groups, funding bodies, public bodies and NGOs
- Relationships with other Learned Societies, CS national and international Organisations
- Contribution to national and international policy debate and consultations
- Support for public and private investment in CS infrastructure
- Privatisation of FE / HE provision and institutions
- Next generation CS educational models and delivery mechanisms
- Cost-Benefit analysis of CS education to UK plc.
This list is not intended to be exhaustive, and I would appreciate comments from EC members on areas which are missing or require clarification, but it does give an idea of the scale and the scope of the activities for the EC to be addressed by the end of 2014. Support for existing activities, such as CAS and the CAS NoE, PEB, AAC, etc., will, of course, continue and will not, I hope, be negatively affected by the growth of the mainstream agenda of the EC.
I look forward to your comments with interest.
Lachlan MacKinnon, Chair of Education Committee.