Implementation of Curriculum for Excellence and the development of new National Qualifications in Scotland have presented a timely opportunity to revise the way Computing Science is taught in schools and provide a more interesting, up-to-date and engaging experience for both teachers and learners.
Under a joint project, the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), Scotland's National Academy and the BCS, The Chartered Institute of IT, have developed teaching materials that support Computing Science related aspects of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) in Scotland, years S1 to S3 (broadly ages 11-14). The project has worked with Education Scotland so that aspects of the materials may be used to support parts of the new national qualifications for Computing Science. The project has sought to highlight the value of learners having insight into computational thinking. While CfE is a Scottish initiative, the materials are driven by the latest Computing pedagogy so they have considerably wider international applicability.
The Societies secured funding to second Jeremy Scott, Head of Computing at George Heriot's School, to lead the development work. He has been seconded on a part-time basis since August 2011.
The materials are the result of a project initiated and supported by the RSE and the BCS and with a grant from Education Scotland. The project has received widespread support from universities and industry partners.
Professor Sally Brown, Chair of the RSE/BCS Project Advisory Group explains: "The RSE is pleased at being able to support this very exciting project, involving a range of committed partners. Curriculum for Excellence and the new national qualifications in Scotland provide an excellent opportunity to re-energise the teaching of Computing in schools and highlight its importance to a digitally enabled society. The materials can contribute to this by providing a more interesting, up-to-date and engaging experience for both teachers and learners, an approach which the RSE firmly supports. The materials have been trialled in schools across Scotland to very positive responses from teachers."
Professor John McDermid, Vice-President Engineering & Science and Ambassador of Computing at the BCS adds: "The BCS has made substantial contributions to the Computing at Schools (CAS) initiative, and was delighted to have the opportunity to work with the RSE on this very important initiative. All school children will benefit from having a sound foundation in computing, which these new materials will provide. Significantly, they also have the potential to increase academic interest in the subject and thus to foster an expansion of the numbers studying computer science at University and then entering the profession. Thus the BCS is optimistic that there will be a major long-term benefit from this initiative."
Minister for Learning, Science & Scotland's Languages, Dr Alasdair Allan MSP said: "I welcome the production of the RSE exemplification materials on computing science. They are a valuable resource which will help teachers develop pupils' understanding of core computing concepts and the associated skills as part of Curriculum for Excellence, from early secondary into the new qualifications.
"Young people should have opportunities to undertake learning in computing science, to help them make sense of how computer technology works and can be applied. The relevant and up-to-date contexts in the exemplification produced by Jeremy Scott offers practitioners inspiring ideas for its delivery."
The materials feature exercises with video tutorials, sample answers and additional activities which can be used to both broaden and deepen the topics. They are freely available here on the SSERC website. To get the latest information and all the resources log on to The Royal Society of Edinburgh website.
Four resources comprising tutor and learner materials have been produced :-