Computing in schools and in the wider community

In Wales, computing is not generally taught in schools; instead, something called C&IT (Communications and Information Technology) or Business IT tends to dominate. In England, things seem to be moving a lot faster - they have a curriculum and a lot of new computing teachers. But here on the edge of the UK, technology is not quite so embedded.

I am really keen on ideas and organisations which try and address this - informally, through projects like EarlyMastery/PlayfulCoding, Technocamps, GOWS (Get On With Science), and with the wonderful organisation Computing at School.

Aberystwyth Robotics club

I help out at the Aberystwyth Robotics Club, an after school club for local schoolkids hosted in the Physics department here in Aberystwyth University. You can find out more on their site http://www.aberrobotics.club/.

Early Mastery/Playful Coding

This is an EU project, which will run from 2015 (March) through to 2016 (June-July). Countries include Wales (Aber Uni & Ysgol Bro Hyddgen in Machynlleth); Spain (Girona Uni, and some nearby schools); Romania (Craiova uni & schools; France (Bourgogne); and Italy (Perugia, uni, a company working in the schools-tech sphere, and some schools). The idea is that we share workshops, write them up so that they can be used elsewhere, and generally create an excellent platform of transferable coding resources. You can see the platform here, as it develops: http://playfulcoding.eu.

GOWS

I was a "Science Champion" with GOWS, 2012-2014 (or so) a project aiming to bring practising scientists in to schools particularly focussing on the transition between primary and secondary. The schools I'm worked with were Ysgol Bro Ddyfi, in Machynlleth, and the feeder primaries. You can find some classroom posters here: GOWS classroom resources.

Technocamps

Technocamps was an EU funded project encouraging 11- to 19-year-olds in the Welsh convergence area to engage with proper computing, through the running of Technocamps in which partner universities (Swansea, Aberystwyth, Bangor and Glamorgan) run short intensive courses on fun computing. I was heavily involved in the first year of this in Aberystwyth, writing and delivering workshops, and doing day to day management of the team. One of the things I'm most pleased with is a one day workshop on Artificial Intelligence (you can find a blog post on that here: which includes a link to download the materials). I was also involved in helping to put together a module on wearable computing; again there's a blog post on that here.

Computing at School

Computing at School is a grassroots initiative run by teachers and other people concerned about the state of computing education in the UK, with support from some seriously big hitters (e.g. Microsoft and the Royal Society). If you're interested in this issue, you can join their mailing list and find more information on http://www.computingatschool.org.uk/.

They run teachers' conferences, and 6th form conferences, and have a lot of input into policy matters in this area. My particular contributions come through Technocamps, and through my interest in supporting women and girls in technology. It seems that women's under-representation in computing and IT starts early; pretty much as soon as it's possible for girls to drop computing, lots of them do. So I think it's important to look at the school picture as well as the situation in university and the workplace.