Computer Science partnership
The Edinburgh Computer Science and Engineering in Schools (ECSES) programme works to provide young people with inclusive and inspiring access to computer science and engineering, allowing them progress into digital futures. In doing this, it seeks to tackle the challenges schools in Edinburgh (and elsewhere) face in recruiting and retaining teachers of Computer Science.
The new ECSES programme incorporates and builds on partnership activities in relation to computer science that we have been involved in since 2019. We have been successful in securing more than £210,000 to recruit a Computer Science teacher and provide primary teacher specialist input to work across partner schools, supporting their work to embed CS on the curriculum and to grow their own CS teaching capacity. This exciting new phase will begin in August 2023 and run for three years initially.
- Give young people access to high quality, sustainable Computer Science and Engineering teaching, with progression pathways, enhanced by industry links, to national qualifications and beyond.
- Support existing teachers to become confident and successful in teaching Computer Science and Engineering.
- Encourage and support potential future teachers of these subjects.
The challenge of computer science teacher recruitment was first highlighted in 2018 by the headteacher of one of our partner schools at a partnership meeting. Together we scoped out how we could work together to enable some access to CS for pupils in that high school and increase teacher confidence in primary schools we were linking with (who had identified this as being an issue).
Since then, we have worked together on increasing access to computer science and coding. The new ECSES programme builds on this existing partnership between Broomhouse Primary School, Castleview Primary School, Castlebrae Community Campus – schools serving areas of significant socio-economic challenge – and George Watson’s College (GWC). Since 2019, Computer Science teachers from GWC have worked with colleagues in these City of Edinburgh Council schools to build both knowledge and confidence of the subject and to provide pupils with direct input into their learning.
A new partnership with Leith Primary School has also been incorporated and links with Leith Academy mean that enrichment and mutual professional development opportunities for high school pupils and teachers respectively are created.
Resources critical to getting this ambitious 3-year programme to this stage have been:
- Senior Leadership time - senior leaders have been central to establishing the need and, working with the GWC Partnerships Manager, have developed the programme to mitigate some of the impact of CS teacher shortages and to look at how we can collectively also be part of addressing the root causes of this problem.
- Teacher capacity - commitment from Junior and Senior School teachers at GWC to spend time in partner schools. Currently 5 Junior School teachers are involved and the Senior School Principal Teacher for CS. From August 2023, this will move to involvement from the SS CS teaching team, including leadership support (4 days per week in total), plus 2 days a week of a JS teacher.
- Fundrasing - support from GWC Development Office. All involvement of GWC colleagues has thus far been absorbed by GWC. From August, teaching input is built into the ECSES programme and funded from external sources. Non-teaching input will be contributed by GWC (e.g. Partnerships Manager).
Pupil feedback at lunchtime code clubs and curriculum classes in primary school has been positive, as has the work we have done together on CS with high school groups. It is for this reason that our partnership activities have been formulated into a programme that has built in capacity, funding and ambitions to make greater impact from August 2023.
Currently 15 pupils (mixed gender) are involved in code clubs at the three partner primary schools and around 300 further pupils have benefitted from partnership CS sessions in curriculum time (upper primary and high school age).
From August, pupils in primary schools across all year groups will participate in some way. All pupils in S1 and S2 at Castlebrae Community Campus will also be involved, along with S3 pupils who have selected CS as a subject (15 pupils) and 16 pupils in S4 who are taking a games development qualification.
These activities take place weekly and will continue for the 3-year programme. A key element of this programme is creating sustainable pathways in schools, hence the partner schools will change as some schools move to sustainability beyond external involvement (in terms of curriculum time -links will remain in terms of mutual professional learning and resource sharing) and new partners become part of the programme.