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NCCE - certificate in GCSE Computer Science subject knowledge

I've passed!

After nearly 6 months of hard work and some challenging logistical arrangements I have completed the National Centre for Computing Education certificate in GCSE Computer Science Subject Knowledge.

I am really pleased and proud to have completed this in the first cohort of candidates and look forward to my graduation and Google HQ in September.

Do check out the links here for the National Centre for Computing Education.

There is a good chance that if you are reading my blog or visiting my website that you will consider the teaching of Computing as an important strand in the modern curriculum. Many schools (my own included) face a shortage of skilled and qualified CS teachers and this is often reflected in the curriculum being offered. Many schools (regardless of their background) find it hard to recruit or keep good teachers.

To quote from the NCCE website:

"To meet the growing demand for digital skills, the National Centre for Computing Education has been set up to make a significant contribution to the teaching of computing education throughout England.
We support the teaching of computing in schools and colleges across all key stages, giving teachers the subject knowledge and skills to establish computing as a core part of the curriculum."

In many ways I am an ideal candidate for this initiative. Whilst my degree is in Chemistry and Education I do have an extensive love and passion for computing and programming. Like many teachers I have taught outside my area (when needed to by the school). I have taught OCR IT, ICT key skills and Media studies (as I was one of the few teachers who could use Final Cut Pro!). I currently teach all of Key Stage 3 Computer Science at school but really want an opportunity to teach GCSE. I knew that I had a good skill set and with over 20 years teaching a good range of pedagogical tools.

So, over approximately 40 hours I have completed the certificate in GCSE Computer Science Subject Knowledge. This has involved completing three (a minimum of two required) online units produced by the Raspberry Pi Foundation via Future Learn and two face to face courses (these are usually spread over 2 days each). At the end of the course there was a compulsory on-line, timed multiple choice test where I achieved 76% (pass mark 65%)

This is a course i would thoroughly recommend especially as there are bursaries available to help support it.

What I enjoyed about the course?

  • The course starts with a diagnostic tool which helps you plan your route through the course effectively
  • The Future learn platform is really useful when you are studying in your spare time, very high quality resources, good feedback from the writers as you complete tasks. I was also pleased with the support from Future Learn when things didn't go quite as they should
  • Excellent communication from STEM Learning when booking and attending courses.
  • Excellent communication and support from the NCCE team, they really wanted to help remove barriers to success (sorry about the frantic emails!)
  • The face to face courses were presented by a real diverse range of teachers who had excellent subject knowledge but were also able to relate everything back to exam questions and the exam spec.
  • The teaching resources were good, and over the 4 sessions each teacher delivered it in slightly different ways.
  • It was brilliant being able to meet and chat to other teachers (quite a few Maths and Science teachers) who all seemed to be in a similar situation to me, I came away feeling less alone.

My perception of Education policy after teaching for more than 20 years is one of focusing on recruitment and really not considering retention. This course bucks that trend and really does want to make a positive impact on the teaching of classroom teachers. This isn't about equipping you to be a member of SLT or get a promotion but really about deploying resources in school effectively and well. This course and certificate I think will make a very positive impact into the teaching of CS in schools where there is such a desperate gap of skills.

Thank you NCCE!

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