Incentive for elite graduates to train as Computer Science teachers
Graduates are to be offered scholarships worth £20,000 as part of a new Government initiative to overhaul the teaching of ICT, a move which will include the support of technology giants Microsoft, Facebook and IBM.
The new teacher training course will start from September 2013. Approximately 50 scholarships will be handed out in the first year, with up to 500 current ICT teachers being retrained to teach Computer Science. Those who graduate from university with at least a 2:1 will be eligible for the scholarship, reported The Guardian.
The course itself is being setup with support from the Chartered Institute for IT and the British Computer Society (BCS). The BCS act as the professional body for IT and are managing the project for the Department of Education (DfE). Dr Bill Mitchell, Director of the BCS Academy of Computing, described the goal of the project, saying: “Our vision is for every secondary school to have outstanding computer science teachers.”
The government overhaul of education has led to changing attitudes towards the teaching of computing and information technology in schools. New courses are being developed in order to teach children programming skills and how to create software, as opposed to simply word processing and the use of existing applications. The current ICT course, which is being scrapped, has been described by Education Secretary Michael Gove as “de-motivational and dull.” Mr Gove reaffirmed his belief in the need for the restructuring of the way that computing is taught in schools, saying, "If we want our country to produce the next Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the Internet, we need the very best Computer Science teachers in our classrooms. They need to have the right skills and deep subject knowledge to help their pupils.”
Ministers have asked for the support of several high profile technology firms to contribute to the content of the new programme. Facebook’s Director of Public Policy for UK and Ireland, Simon Milner responded to the announcement of the courses enthusiastically, welcoming the invitation to share the passion and expertise of the company with a new generation. He said, "Facebook welcomes the scholarship programme for teachers announced by the Government. It is a positive step to help get high quality computer science teachers in schools, and therefore ensure more young people gain the right skills to join and lead our digital industries.
Mixed response to changes
The changes to subject curriculum and a need for retaining have elicited mixed responses from teachers.
Dr Tom Crick, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at Cardiff Metropolitan University and Chair in Wales of Computing At School (CAS), said in response to the scholarship programme, “It is recognition that we need to attract the best computer science graduates into teaching, who can demonstrate exceptional subject knowledge as well as the ability to enthuse and engage the next generation of technologists and engineers.”
Chris Leach, Head of ICT at Winchester House School, Brackley, criticised planned changes, saying “Gove seems to have just listened to the message that ICT in this country is a "mess" without looking into the fantastic ICT teaching that is going on around the country. Every day I am inspired by the work other ICT teachers are doing with their students and I strongly believe that these people should also have an influence on the new, improved ICT curriculum.”