Computing Science Departments for all schools

Everyone involved in the Digital sector in Scotland is acutely aware of the skills shortage in our Industry and the need for an increase in the supply of suitably qualified people to allow the sector to thrive and prosper.

One major problem is that our Local Authority Education heads, Secondary school headteachers, Guidance staff, parents and children are not aware of this shortage and need.

We need to improve the status of Computing Science as a subject in our schools.  It should be accorded the same status as the other three traditional Sciences.

A significant number of secondary schools in Scotland do not offer Computing Science at all in the curriculum.   Are there any schools in Scotland which do not offer the three traditional Sciences?  I strongly suspect not.

In many other schools, the subject is part of a faculty, run by a Head of department with no specialist knowledge of the subject.  In too many cases the department is grouped with Business Studies as, in ignorance, Senior Management feel that they "all use computers"  so it's really the same subject.

All schools should be required to offer Computing Science as an option on the timetable.  Every school should have a suitably qualified Head of department who would have the knowledge and expertise to expand and develop the subject in what is a rapidly changing environment.

The initiatives to publicise the Digital sector in Scotland should be expanded to inform and educate our Local Authority Education heads, Secondary school headteachers, Guidance staff, parents and children.  These are the people who are making the final decisions and the message is not getting through.

 

Why the contribution is important

The groundwork for a thriving Digital sector can be carried out  in our schools but, in too many schools,  the structures are not in place or are not fit for purpose.  A major change in emphasis is required.

 

by njpasternak on November 19, 2016 at 12:12PM

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Comments

  • Posted by sroebuck November 21, 2016 at 21:04

    I suspect that one of the underlying difficulties here is in finding people with the necessary skills to teach computing. However, I think you will find that there are quite a lot of skilled computer scientists in employment who would be very interested in the idea of taking a break from their job (a day a week, a term?) to teach and enthuse the next generation. There are also an increasing number of skilled retired computer scientists. Perhaps some creative thought could find a way of making it possible for the need and the interest to come together.
  • Posted by CharlieA December 09, 2016 at 14:11

    I agree wholeheartedly with the spirit and intent of this, but also agree that staffing and skilling could be a significant inhibitor. However, in this age of almost ubiquitous conferencing couldn't Schools share and collaborate to run courses across campuses.
  • Posted by ChrisAitken December 11, 2016 at 19:39

    Could the Government not follow the English model and offer financial incentives to encourage skilled graduates into teaching? The number of CS departments is sadly falling rapidly year on year whilst demand for jobs in digital within Scotland is increasing.
  • Posted by craigpark December 14, 2016 at 18:26

    From my view working in a university computing department, one of the contributing factors that makes it difficult to find well-qualified computing teachers is that our graduates are being paid large salaries by companies desperate to grow their IT staff. There is fierce competition among companies to hire, which has driven the salaries up in recent years. How many graduates will choose to take a job as a teacher when there are starting salaries of £35k on offer?

    Another factor in such a fast-moving industry is that the people that want to do IT, and are good at it, are interested in the cutting-edge technology that they work with. Such people will accept a smaller salary if they can get interesting work. Teaching has it's own rewards, but working with the latest technologies and keeping your skills up-to-date is unlikely to happen when teaching computing.

    This is leading me to think that the best approach is to cross-train teachers from different backgrounds, but to have a curriculum designed by a team that includes experts from industry and academia.

    An earlier suggestion for people to take time out from their job to help with teaching is likely to find support from some of our largest employers of IT staff. They know that they need a bigger pool of talent to choose from and are already contributing to teaching at university level.
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