Could you teach computer science? By Tony MacFadyen April 23, 2013

Tony MacFadyen is Director of Enterprise at the University of Reading’s Institute of Education

If you are thinking about a career in the classroom, why not teach computer science?

Tony MacFadyen, Director of Enterprise at the University’s Reading Institute of Education, explains why you should get with the programme

Imagine a world without computers.

From having no spreadsheets to help us budget and regularly queuing in the bank because there’s no ATM, to no lifesaving early diagnosis of disease and no internet which allows us to . . . well to do seemingly almost anything.

A very different world!

The way we use computers, and what we use them for, has evolved dramatically over the last 15 years.

However, the government and industry have argued that the skills being taught in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) classrooms have not kept up, leaving children unprepared for the new world they face.

Enter Michael Gove’s recent announcement of a major reform to the current ICT curriculum.

The changes, including the introduction of computer science in schools (now as part of the EBacc), aim to better prepare young people for progression in education and a professional career.

Current ICT lessons, he said, were ‘demotivating and dull’ and schools need to focus more on getting pupils to learn how to design ‘apps’ and learn to code.

Indeed he has support from the likes of Bill Gates and Ian Livingstone (co-founder Games Workshop). Many people have argued that the previous ICT curriculum needed improvement as pupils need the skills of computer science and algorithmic thinking to give them the best chance of successful careers in every area of modern life.

However there is a problem as countries like the US and Japan have stolen a march on the UK.

Government statistics show that only 35 per cent of ICT teachers are specialists, compared with more than 80 per cent for core subjects such as maths and English.

Who is going to teach these new skills? Perhaps it will be you.

Last year the University of Reading launched a nationwide project that aims to meet the growing need for computer science teachers in schools. The project includes giving current teachers ideas for introducing key computing concepts in lessons.

University specialists have hosted conferences and given workshops in schools that have helped teachers meet the demands of the new curriculum, and now the University has been awarded funding to train the next generation of computing teachers.

This month, the University’s Institute of Education, one of the leading teacher trainers in the country, is launching a new Subject Knowledge Enhancement course (SKE) in computer science to complement its PGCE (Sec) Computer Science course.

SKEs are free and offer a route into teaching for those wishing to train as teachers and possess good teaching qualities, but whose degrees do not provide them with the subject knowledge required.

The Computer Science Enhancement course is a three-and-a half-month, full-time course taken prior to teacher training with bursaries available to eligible candidates.

It is designed for people with a strong interest in computer science and good general teaching qualities who need to develop their subject knowledge before commencing secondary teacher training.

Those with an appropriate degree can apply straight to the PGCE.

The SKE is taught by computer science teachers alongside experts from the University’s School of Systems Engineering.

Trainees will develop knowledge and skills in computing and learn through a variety of teaching methods, including workshops, guided private study, group work, student presentations and programming projects.

The current economic climate means many people face uncertain futures over their jobs or are struggling to find work.

Computer Science teaching is an opportunity for people to take that step into a new and fulfilling career. Enrolling on the SKE or PGCE (Sec) means you receive the best in training in computer science. This will provide you with the confidence and skill to teach the new curriculum and join a highly skilled workforce needed for our future success. For more details or to enrol contact Janet Thomson, head of SKE, at or (0118) 378 2656.


Poster Workshop: Wednesday 24 April at the University of Reading

This hands-on workshop and study day is a follow-up to the Victoria and Albert Museum’s conference Posters: collection, creation and context, and will focus on the design and production of letterpress and chromolithographed posters.

The day will combine practical printing with sessions devoted to studying a rich array of original examples, and should provide an unparalleled opportunity to consider poster production from several different standpoints (technique, design, display, and context).

In the practical sessions, run by Martin Andrews and Alan Hardie, participants will have an opportunity to print poster-like material from wood type, wood blocks, and nineteenth-century presses, in much the same way that would have been done throughout most of the nineteenth century. They will also be able to make marks on lithographic stone and help with taking impressions from what they have produced.

The study sessions, run by Michael Twyman, will cover letterpress and lithographic posters in two sessions. The first will trace the evolution of the letterpress poster in England and France from the late eighteenth century to the mid twentieth century, and make comparisons between the two approaches. The second will focus on the production of chromolithographed posters in England and France from the 1890s to the middle of the 1960s. Both sessions will draw exclusively on original material.

Martin Andrews is a designer, printing historian, and teacher in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication of the University of Reading, Alan Hardie is an experienced printmaker, and Michael Twyman, Director of the University’s Centre for Ephemera Studies, is a printing historian specializing in lithography.

This all-day event will take place in the Print Studio of the Institute of Education at Reading University’s London Road site. Numbers will be limited to 30 (sessions will be repeated so that no more than 15 people will be at each one). The cost will be £40, to include tea and coffee. Lunch is not included but the cafe, Eat & Drink at London Road, is nearby.

All enquiries to Diane Bilbey

TAEDS – CityLit Deaf Day on Saturday April 6th

Theatre Arts, Education & Deaf Studies represented the Institute of Education during this year’s annual CityLit Deaf Day on Saturday April 6th. Simon Floodgate led a Sign Theatre Workshop, supported by students from the University’s unique BA Programme. This fun, practical drama session proved a big hit. So much so that the workshop was over-subscribed and eager punters were, unfortunately, turned away at the door. Simon introduced some basic principles for how sign language and voice can be integrated to create performance for deaf-hearing integrated audiences thus showcasing the unique performance practice being researched here at Reading.
The workshop was part of an event packed full of more than 60 different exhibitions, workshops and entertainment geared to everyone who is interested in deaf issues. As well as Simon and current students on the Programme, the building was populated by TAEDS’ alumni including Deafinitely Theatre, staff at Oak Lodge School for the Deaf, one of the instigators of “Signs and Voices”, the first comic with deaf superheroes, and many sign language interpreters including the lead interpreter coordinating the interpreting provision for the whole day.