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PGCE Computing Science - Programming Level

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by a320mac, Aug 6, 2020.

  1. a320mac

    a320mac New commenter


    Apologies for the double post. I am an airline pilot and want out. I am sick of the travelling, time away, shifts and health impact. I have a degree in IT systems. We did around 40 credits of Java programming. That was 15 years ago. My skills are almost non existent.

    My intention was to teach Geography but with only an A level in the subject, with all of the best will in the world, I think it would hold me back in my career as why would I be promoted over someone with a MA or PHD in the subject. Similarly, for my first job, it isn't unreasonable to assume that those with geography degrees would be a more attractive candidate.

    So it brings me back to computing science. I believe that Python is the language of choice for most schools. Does anyone think it would be realistic to learn the language by autumn 2021 when I would hope to start my PGCE? Programming seems to come up regularly as an issue. Does anyone know the level that we would be expected to teach to? Is it programming a SpaceX rocket or is it smaller projects?

    Would anyone be able to advise me? Am I being naive or after such a long break, can a year be enough to get myself up to speed to get on and succeed on a PGCE and be a great teacher?
  2. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    I have been teaching computing/computer science for 20 years and have never taught python. It is popular because many computing/computer science teachers know nothing about programming and there are lots of materials on the web about python.
    The fact that you were taught programming at some point in your life is a bonus.

    Go find a GCSE/A level past paper and see if you could do it.
    Dorsetdreams likes this.
  3. a320mac

    a320mac New commenter

    Many thanks for your reply. I think for now i will use Python to try get back into the programming mindset. I did a day of it yesterday and it mostly clicked. What language would you recommend learning?

    Programming didn't come naturally to me at uni but I am hoping with a year to go it will be time to gain some fluency and confidence - that is assuming I am lucky enough to secure a place on a PGCE course!
  4. danlee

    danlee New commenter

    There are lots of opportunities out there in computer science as school's are struggling to recruit good teachers in the subject.

    In response to your questions - yes. It sounds like you have valuable skills and experience that a school will want.

    The programming is the part that usually causes the most anxiety but you have plenty of time to get up to speed. This might sound like a cliche but with programming, it either clicks or it doesn't. If you 'get it' then you will be able to learn it quickly. I would advise that you skill yourself up for A-Level computer science. The trickier algorithms at KS5 are probably merge sort, quicksort, Dijkstra's, A* algorithm and an implementation of advanced data structures e.g. linked list, graphs and trees.

    I would advise sticking with Python as it is the most common language in schools. I would recommend being able to use it to do procedural programming and object oriented programming. I would also advise doing some of the basics in JavaScript; there is a good 'in a nutshell' guide that can be bought on Ebay quite cheaply.

    Good luck.

  5. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    Imagine giving the same advice to a French teacher. OK, you can pick it up before you start to teach it. Ridiculous.
  6. danlee

    danlee New commenter

    That is what happens. We hire a person with a degree in German and they teach French. What's so abnormal (ridiculous?) about that?
  7. itgeek

    itgeek New commenter

    Talk to teachers you know before making any final decisions about a teaching career, obviously it has its downside.
  8. tonyuk

    tonyuk Occasional commenter

    I would advise contacting a local school and asking if you could go in for the day and spend some time in a Computing Department (most would be more than willing to accommodate though this is trickier with the present situation). You will then get a good feel for what is taught in schools and if you could handle it. Your level of programming skills will depend on the school and if they are only up to 16 - if they are you need to be good at GCSE level. If you want to teach in a school with a sixth form then the skill set is higher. Either way get into a school and "try before you buy".

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