Further to the CAS paper presented at Koli Calling 2011 in Finland in November 2011, Neil Brown (University of Kent) presented a paper entitled: Bringing Computer Science Back Into Schools: Lessons From The UK at SIGCSE’13, the 44th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, in Denver in March.
The paper is available to download for free via the ACM Author-ize service below; the abstract is as follows:
Computer science in UK schools is a subject in decline: the ratio of Computing to Maths A-Level students (i.e. ages 16–18) has fallen from 1:2 in 2003 to 1:20 in 2011 and in 2012. In 2011 and again in 2012, the ratio for female students was 1:100, with less than 300 female students taking Computing A-Level in the whole of the UK each year. Similar problems have been observed in the USA and other countries, despite the increased need for computer science skills caused by IT growth in industry and society. In the UK, the Computing At School (CAS) group was formed to try to improve the state of computer science in schools. Using a combination of grassroots teacher activities and policy lobbying at a national level, CAS has been able to rapidly gain traction in the ﬁght for computer science in schools. We examine the reasons for this success, the challenges and dangers that lie ahead, and suggest how the experience of CAS in the UK can beneﬁt other similar organisations, such as the CSTA in the USA.
In the context of recent (and ongoing) curriculum and qualifications reform for computing education in UK schools, I am hosting a one-day Higher Education Academy workshop in Cardiff in May entitled: Rethinking The First Year Computing Curriculum.
HEA STEM (Computing): Rethinking the First Year Computing Curriculum
24th May 2013, 10am-4pm
Department of Computing & Information Systems, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Western Avenue, Cardiff, CF5 2YB
There have been profound changes to computing education in UK schools over the past two years, with significantly more to follow; soon we will see applicants to higher education courses with 4+ years of rigorous computing education at school. How will this affect the first year university computing curriculum?
This workshop will offer a forum to discuss this and related themes:
- What are the potential issues with the new focus on computing in schools?
- What changes do we envisage to the content and level of the first year computing curriculum?
- How will the new GCSEs in Computer Science affect the pipeline of students coming through to university?
- How can we change the perception of A-Level Computing, especially in light of proposed A-Level reform?
- Getting kids coding: can we expect a better understanding or aptitude in programming?
- How can universities encourage and support the teaching of computer science in UK schools (e.g. CAS/BCS Network of Computer Science Teaching Excellence)?
- Are we doing enough outreach and public engagement activities for computer science, compared to other STEM disciplines?
Computer science touches upon all three of my education priorities: literacy, numeracy and bridging the gap. It equips learners with the problem-solving skills so important in life and work.
The value of computational thinking, problem-solving skills and information literacy is huge, across all subjects in the curriculum. I therefore believe that every child should have the opportunity to learn concepts and principles from computer science.
Indeed, computing is a high priority area for growth in Wales. The future supply and demand for science, technology and mathematics graduates is essential if Wales is to compete in the global economy.
It is therefore vitally important that every child in Wales has the opportunity to study computer science.
Leighton Andrews AM, Minister for Education and Skills (June 2012)
As co-chair of the Welsh Government’s ICT Steering Group, announced in January to consider the future of ICT and computer science in Welsh schools, we are currently inviting stakeholder views as part of a wider open consultation.
Please participate by completing the official online survey (available in English and Welsh) by Friday 10th May 2013.
|1.||↔||University of Cambridge||(1st)|
|2.||↑||Imperial College London||(3rd)|
|3.||↓||University of Oxford||(2nd)|
|4.||↑||University of Glasgow||(9th)|
|5.||↓||University of Bristol||(4th)|
|6.||↑||University of Exeter||(15th)|
|7.||↑||University of Birmingham||(16th)|
|8.||↓||University College London||(6th)|
|9.||↑||University of York||(10th)|
|10.||↓||University of Warwick||(8th)|
As always, the rankings for Wales institutions in Computer Science were of particular interest to me:
|76.||↓||University of Glamorgan||(63rd)|
|89.||↓||Cardiff Metropolitan University||(88th)|
N.B. no data was available for Swansea Metropolitan University or the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (who merged in 2012), or for the University of Wales, Newport (who recently merged with the University of Glamorgan to form the University of South Wales.
The Complete University Guide’s methodology for the subject league tables are based on four measures: Student Satisfaction, Research Assessment, Entry Standards and Graduate Prospects. To qualify for inclusion in a subject table, a university has to have data for at least two of the four measures; a blank in the Entry Standards and Graduate Prospects columns is not a zero score but rather denotes that no valid data were available.
Last month I emailed my local MP, Jenny Willott (Lib Dem, Cardiff Central), regarding the Draft Defamation Bill and the ‘Leveson clause’ using The Libel Reform Campaign‘s Don’t kill the Bill. I received the following response this morning:
Ref: LS/TC/270313/Defamation Bill 2013
8th April 2013
Dear Dr. Crick,
Thank you for your email about the Defamation Bill.
The Defamation Bill is a hugely important piece of legislation that I strongly support. Over recent years, Britain has become a laughing stock as libel tourism has been on the rise and cases have been brought against various high profile scientists and journalists. This has to change, and as my party leader, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, made clear in a speech on civil liberties last year, libel reform is a very real priority for this government.
That’s why I have been disappointed that this Bill has been held up in the House of Lords by the Conservatives after Labour Peers tabled amendments to introduce the Leveson reforms. However, now that the three main party leaders have agreed the way forward to implement the Leveson reforms, the path is clear for the Defamation Bill to proceed.
As part of the deal between the parties, the Prime Minister announced to the House of Commons that the Government’s legislative programme would now be unblocked, including the Defamation Bill. The changes proposed by Leveson and the reforms in the Defamation Bill are badly needed, and I am pleased that we have now been able to agree a way that we can deliver both.
The right to freedom of speech is a cornerstone of our constitution, and the need to reform our 19th century libel laws is great. The proposals in the Defamation Bill will ensure that the threat of libel proceedings is not used to frustrate robust scientific and academic debate, or to impede responsible investigative journalism and valuable work undertaken by non-governmental organisations. Liberal Democrats have been at the forefront of the campaign for reform, and I am looking forward to the Defamation Bill completing its stages in the Commons in the next few weeks and becoming law.
Thank you again for writing, and please do not hesitate to contact me again if you have further concerns about this or any other issue.
MP for Cardiff Central
If, in some cataclysm, all scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is the atomic hypothesis (or atomic fact, or whatever you wish to call it) that all things are made of atoms — little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another. In that one sentence you will see an enormous amount of information about the world, if just a little imagination and thinking are applied.
The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. I (1964)