The University of Southampton

Minister praises University support for Computing Science Network

Published: 3 September 2015

Academics in Electronics and Computer Science, and Southampton Education School, at the University of Southampton have been praised by government minister Nick Gibb for their contribution to the success of the UK’s Network of Teaching Excellence in Computer Science, through the establishment of a Computing at School Regional Centre for the South of England (CRC South).

Professor Les Carr and Robert Blair from the Web Science Centre for Doctoral Training and Dr Janice Griffiths, Director of the University’s Mathematics and Science Learning Centre, were specifically highlighted by Nick Gibb, Minister of State for Schools, for their participation in the Network which aims to build communities of computing teachers to support each other and improve their subject knowledge.

Mr Gibb expressed his sincere thanks to the University and praised Southampton alongside the other universities participating in the Network which, he said, “have exceptional computer science school outreach initiatives in place and provide outstanding support to teachers in their region”.

“Thanks to your staff and those from the other universities involved we will be able to make sure school teachers throughout the country have access to the support they need to become excellent teachers of computer science,” Mr Gibb concluded.

Now in its third year, the Network, run by the Computing at School group (CAS), has so far helped over 40,000 teachers gain in expertise and confidence. The ten CRCs will provide strong regional strategic leadership to ensure the Network continues to provide high quality professional development at scale. Southampton brings expertise in computing through Electronics and Computer Science and in teacher education and professional development through the Mathematics and Science Learning Centre.

In September last year, the Government introduced a new statutory computing curriculum for all state maintained primary and secondary schools with the aim of establishing computing as a core subject discipline in schools on a par with the natural sciences. The success of this new curriculum depends on school teachers, head teachers and school governors who, although enthusiastic about the new curriculum, mostly have no background in computer science.

Professor Carr, co-director of the Web Science Doctoral Training Centre, has worked with CAS for several years supporting teachers who are responsible for delivering the new curriculum and its emphasis on programming, communications and creating computational systems. He has run annual conferences at the university for 200 teachers from around the south coast and with the support of the Education School's Maths and Science Learning Centre has provided regular CPD activities to teachers in preparation for the new curriculum.

Professor Carr praised the efforts of his colleagues from Southampton Education School, particularly Dr John Woollard who helped create the new Computing curriculum and is a leading light in the Computing at School group which runs the Network.

“Our work is another success story for Southampton's excellent interdisciplinary reputation,” Professor Carr enthused. “I am very proud to be part of an influential and multidisciplinary team, displaying the university's excellence in Computing, Communications and Education and achieving significant impact in training up new UK capability for the Digital Economy.

“This year, with funding from CAS, we are partnering with the Faculty of Social, Human and Mathematical Sciences’ Institute of Professional Practice in Education through Dr Griffiths to provide leadership and to co-ordinate support to the region's teachers and strengthen their professional network,” Professor Carr concluded.

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