The best CPD for UK Computing Teachers
In light of the recent After the Reboot report, it is evident that computing teachers desperately need to be supported into accessing quality CPD. While there are surrounding issues I cannot fix, I can help signpost teachers to quality free CPD support. So if you’re looking to up skill, start here:
I cannot stress enough how important it is to connect with your local CAS Hub. Not only can you meet other teachers in the same situation as yourself, but it’s a place where tons of (mostly) free workshops are advertised for you to take advantage of. No one expects computing teachers to figure this out alone, Hub meetings are by far the best and easiest way to meet your local Master Teachers, make valuable connections, and pick up tips for teaching. In addition, CAS Tenderfoot, developed in conjunction with Google, offers training for the delivery of KS3 Computing.
Picademy is a two-day free CPD course for teachers to help them bring digital making into classrooms. Unfortunately, the reality of getting a class set of Raspberry Pi resources, setting it up, using it, and packing it away in one lesson is far from a reality at the moment. Regardless of this, the training is super engaging and fun, and you’ll definitely increase your own confidence, along with getting some tips on how to bring these ideas to the classroom. More directly, this course will give you amazing after-school club activities to run.
You can see what happened when I attended Picademy by ready my write up here.
CyberFirst was developed by the National Cyber Security Programme to encourage young people into considering STEM options, and more specifically, Cyber Security careers. Cyber Security is one of the fastest growing tech sectors and one of the most important areas for development. The programme includes a bursary scheme and competitions (including girl only events) for all ages. Their CyberFirst Defenders course aimed at 14 to 15-year-olds is also run for teachers as CPD and involves a 4-day residential giving you a taste of everything the students would do. Even if you don’t put forward students for the programme, you’ll leave with some tips on how to run engaging Cyber Security activities in the classroom.
Exa Foundation provides a variety of free and paid for CPD sessions for teachers. Run by Alan O’Donohoe, who boasts more than 20 years experience teaching and leading Technology and ICT in schools, Exa Foundation offers events such as Teacher Twilight, Family Hack Jams, Bespoke Training, and CPD. On top of all this, the annual Exabytes conference is an amazing opportunity to meet other computing teachers, attend fantastic talks and take part in outstanding workshops.
TeachMeet events are great as they attract teachers from all subjects. It’s important that as computing teachers we don’t sit in our own little bubble, there is a lot we can learn from teachers in other subjects too. Anyone can volunteer to present at a TeachMeet, you only need to share something for 5 minutes. If you have something that works for you, share it with other teachers and help everyone learn from each other.
CodeUp is a National network of adult code clubs. Free to attend, with a relaxed and casual atmosphere, anyone who wants to learn or develop their coding skills can attend and seek support and advice from professional developers. Occasional workshops are also run, but for the most part, there are no restrictions to what you can learn. The learner-led structure means you determine your outcomes for the session, and the organisers and volunteer mentors will work to help you achieve these. Perhaps turn up with a group of other teachers and work together to improve your programming techniques.
STEM Learning is also a great go-to website for computing CPD. While standards are high, most opportunities are paid for, although bursaries are offered where possible, usually for teachers in state-funded schools.
Manchester/North West based
Hive Learning’s mission is to encourage digital making from 13 to 18-year-olds. While their focus is on teens, this means that they’re also investing in helping teachers develop their own skills to pass on to students. Developed to help address the skills gap, Hive Learning Manchester has succeeded in re-enthusing a number of young people through running Youth Hacks and Coding Bootcamps. Starting this month, one-day teacher boot camps will also be on offer, and they’re free-to-attend.
The Django Girls Foundation aims to inspire women into falling in love with programming. Aimed at encouraging women to consider careers in the technology sector, local workshops often include female computing teachers who just want to develop their confidence when teaching programming to students. Workshops are usually run as one-day sessions in developing a website using Python and Django.
Very similar to the Django Girls Foundation. Rails Girls also aims to encourage women into tech. Also a one-day workshop, participants will learn to develop a web application using Ruby and Ruby on Rails.
If you’re a male computing teacher and think these workshops would be useful to you too, don’t panic! While the workshops are designed to encourage women into tech, all the resources are open source and free to use. So why not get a group of teachers together yourselves and work through the online tutorials! Need help? Contact your local CodeUp branch and work through your problems there.
Something a bit different
Attend a Hackathon
Last month I and two of my fellow PGCE Computing students formed a team and entered Hack Manchester. We did it to push ourselves out of our comfort zones, go beyond working on a fixed coding tutorial, explore other ways of using our programming skills and push the boundaries of what we could achieve. And you know what? We won the Texecom Challenge. Out of hundreds of developers, with probably the least experience in the competition, we came top of our challenge using Python and Logo to visualise data. Our code wasn’t the best, but we developed a working prototype and showed immense growth based on our starting skills.
Your local Makerspace
Contact your local makerspace and see if they’re running any community courses. They may be able to put you in touch with local user groups, or even come and run some workshops with your students!
I think MOOCs can be difficult as nothing quite replaces face-to-face support, but don’t let that make you pass them up completely. Get together as a group, or work through the course at your local CodeUp branch where professional developers are on-hand to help if you get stuck. Here are some online courses to get you started:
- Cambridge GCSE Computing
- Exa Foundation GCSE 9-1 Computer Science
- Future Learn Courses from the National STEM Learning Centre – includes courses on Teaching Computing, Assessment for Learning, and Differentiation for Learning
- Future Learn Courses from the Raspberry Pi Foundation – includes courses on Teaching Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi and Python, and Object Oriented Programming in Python
- Google’s Computational Thinking for Educators
- BCS Certificate in Computer Science Teaching (paid)
Attending an Industry Show might not seem a great place for CPD, but get past the stands of businesses trying to sell you something, and there are also a ton of invaluable talks and workshops going on.
I hope you found this list of the best CPD for computing teachers useful. Think I’ve missed something? Let me know in the comments!Thanks for reading!
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