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Computer Science/Computing GCSE 2016

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by vrusu, Jun 24, 2015.

  1. vrusu

    vrusu New commenter

    Hi, I am looking for any help/advice I get get please! I have never taught computing and I will be changing to computer science in 2016 alongside the new specification. I would like to hear what exam board anyone is choosing to go with in Sep 2016 and why the reasoning of this. Any comments would be helpful. Many thanks in advance. I fear my skills won't be up to scratch for this new spec......
  2. a) Search this forum. The question has been asked a few dozen times before and answered in great detail by lots of different people. You will then have lots of opinions to ponder.

    b) "I have never taught computing". Your f**ked. Look for another job in ICT before you are moved on, or alternatively, cancel everything between now and September 2016, draw the curtains to keep out the light, start smoking and work hard 20 hours a day, 8 days a week; learn algorithms to start with and how to write them. There are a few good books and websites to help with this. Then start learning Python and Small Basic to start with, then assembler, App Inventor and create a website linked to a database in code of your choice. Test yourself by doing all the past controlled assessments in programming at GCSE level and look for extra challenges in the A Level computer specifications. In your spare time, build a computer by buying the bits, then build a network in your house, set it up in Windows, linux and a few other OSs, test it and explore. If you don't have an A Level in Pure Maths, sign up for an evening course at your local college. It will help.

    c) "I fear my skills won't be up to scratch for this new spec......" Computing is not ICT. It is a technical, practical subject, which many of us spent 4 years studying at University and years on top in industry applying what we learnt. You can do it, but you have to start now and work very hard and be prepared to have a nervous breakdown around November as the pressure sets in, and also January, March and May 2016, then at regular intervals in 2017 as students start complaining. There are lots of online courses. Do them all!! Buy a few reference books.

    Good luck.

  3. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    Why have you accepted this? if I was asked to teach Mandarin I would say , "No!".
  4. olderandwiser

    olderandwiser Occasional commenter

    Forget it. It can't be done unless you come from a Computer Science background. Employ someone who is qualified to teach this.
  5. vrusu

    vrusu New commenter

    I can't just forget it and get someone else I'm the Head of IT! They just expect all of us IT teachers to be able to do this.
  6. vrusu

    vrusu New commenter

    Wow, ok. Sounds like I better get cracking. I haven't found anything is the forum about 2016 spec and advice on boards though?
  7. djphillips1408

    djphillips1408 New commenter

    Why are you changing? I am a head of ICT and told my SLT that I can't support computing at KS4 & 5 and they are happy with that. After all there are still a whole bunch of ICT qualifications for both key stages and there will be for many more yeas to come too. The scoring of Computing as counting in Science for EBacc and Progress 8 is a red herring anyway if that is why you are being forced to do it. Science only scores for 2 GCSEs and kids either do dual Science or 3 singles. Only way computing can come into the equation is if a kid fails 2 singles in Science and passes computing. I can't see that happening for any kid in the UK.
  8. olderandwiser

    olderandwiser Occasional commenter

    This sounds more like what is best for you rather than what is best for the school and students.
  9. djphillips1408

    djphillips1408 New commenter

    Or.......... as the school ran computing in the past at A level with very low uptake and a very poor pass rate, I can assure you they are very keen not to return to what they had in the old days. Not going to deny that computing has the potential to be of more use long term to a very, very small minority of students who go into computer science field, but suggesting it's best for the school and students is rather over the top. Both ICT and computing are very much small players in the educational curriculum.
  10. vrusu

    vrusu New commenter

    So what are you offering as an alternative to a GCSE?
  11. johnblack

    johnblack New commenter

    VRUSU - I can help you I am a business teacher and now teach only computer science, had little idea about programming previously but I have skilled up and you have time to do this. PM if you want to have a positive conversation about how to implement it and various pit falls involved if you are only doing it to GCSE it is more than managable to get your head around. I have taught a lot of subjects out of my specialism being a Business Specialist and now head of various departments.
  12. The very discredited ICT "qualifications" on offer at the moment aren't really a subject, just a vast collection of disparate topics that ICT teachers can pick-n-mix from, usually to keep low-ability students occupied. Your school's SLT is absolutely right to go down the Computer Science route, but they need to ensure it is taught by properly qualified people, or make sure that they properly fund re-skilling. You might as well be asked to teach Japanese, and start teaching yourself that, ready for September 2016. That is the case you need to be making out with your SLT.

    Have you started teaching yourself algorithms yet? Why the delay?
  13. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    So how exactly did you skill up? From a really good programming book?

    I suppose you could skill up in Mandarin in the same way and teach that too.
  14. ICT Don

    ICT Don New commenter

    djphillips1408 - Why is it only useful to a small minority? How about those students going to Universities where programming is a module in their degree. I know of maths, physics, business, engineering (and more) courses that have plenty of this already and it forms a core part their undergraduate programmes.

    For example at Imperial College London:

    "Our aim is to give you a solid understanding of how to use computers to model these complicated physical phenomena. In order to do this, not only will you have to learn how to write computer programs but also how to use the powerful tools developed by others. The programming language that we will teach you is python and the tools that we expect you to use are Matplotlib, NumPy and SciPy. These are very powerful and freely available as well as being commonly used by physicists.

    As well as the dedicated computing lab sessions you will use computers throughout your undergraduate career. From 2012, lecturers are being encouraged to set problems that can only be solved on computers. In this way you will learn to use computers as the powerful tools that they are"

    Your school is a grammar school. I would argue you are doing them a disservice by not offering them CS.

    At this point in time it may be taught as part of the module but what happens in a few years when students in schools who have done computing and are way above the level of others. Will you hope that Universities offer remedial classes?
  15. colwynexile

    colwynexile Occasional commenter

    Nope, they'll do what Universities do at the moment, which is spend the first term making sure everyone is at roughly the same level academically but going over things from scratch. This is why in the past Uni's offering Law really didn't like students that had studied A Level law, as it allowed them to give everyone the same info at the same time.

    I would argue that the issue of whatever subject is offered by any school is down to them and their understanding of their own pupils and their abilities, as well as the abilities of the teaching staff. DJ has said he can not support the teaching of computing so why should he be expected to offer it! I was a chorister until I was 12, doesn't mean I could teach RE
  16. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    I absolutely agree with this.

    However, there are schools, even now, who expect ICT teachers to teach computer science. This is what makes my blood boil. Teachers teaching a subject which they are not qualified in any way to teach.
  17. olderandwiser

    olderandwiser Occasional commenter

    Many schools, if I remember correctly, have a HoD for French, Spanish, German, and then one of them is also the faculty head. The same structure often exists for Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

    Enlightened schools might consider this approach for ICT and Computer Science (and possibly one or two other subjects like technology), so there are two HoDs and one of them is the faculty head.

    That way, Mickey Mouse popularist topics could continue to be cobbled together and taught by ICT Heads, who have a range of 2.2 and third degrees, low expectations and aren't keen to change the status quo, and the proper sciency topics in Computer Science could be led, managed and propelled forward by highly qualified, respected and experienced (and properly paid) Computer Scientists.

    That way, the DJPs of this world can muddle through, ticking off time until they retire teaching whatever fad is in at the moment to low level students, while students who deserve and should get a proper education in a Science, where expectations are high and skill levels demanding, can shoot for the stars.
  18. colwynexile

    colwynexile Occasional commenter

    No doubt I'll regret being the Billy Goat Gruff here...

    Olderandwiser.. the level of ICT expectations might be like that in your department, but not in mine, and not in many across the country!

    And being enlightened does not suddenly allow money to appear from no-where to pay the new HoD / Faculties, let alone the experienced teachers of CS (who would have to sit on MPS/UPS and not earn the 'big bucks' CS can supply)

    And its surprising someone of your knowledge and experience of this minor chapel of a forum of ours, should attack one of its well know congregation as we've all seen the resources DJ has produced - no lack of expectation / skill / etc. there!

    Or is it really? (clip clop, clip, clop)
  19. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    I worry that computer science will be taught badly by unqualified teachers. They will create no enthusiasm for the subject amongst students which in turn could lead to low uptake at option time.

    lack of training, money and teachers could kill CS at birth.
  20. It's already dead IMHO.

    You are right. Too many unqualified teachers now are teaching it, and teaching it badly. There are also too few coming through the ranks. Schools are desperately cobbling together courses and any ol teacher, more for show than anything. There just isn't the money available to make it a success. Neither are schools willing to give Computer Scientists the time to make Computer Science courses a success - a few hours a week as per a standard subject teacher's allocation of free time just doesn't work in CS. And there was never any strategic plan to make it a success. Schools need to stop trying to deliver this very technical, very time-consuming subject on the cheap and on the hoof. But they won't / can't so it will stay dead, and won't rise like a phoenix from the ashes.
    hollende likes this.

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