A summer of learning

28 September 2020

Sophie Jenkinson, who recently completed her teacher training as a maths teacher, reflects on her experience of attending our early-career summer school and the skills she’s gained for the classroom.

Over the holidays, I attended a four day Teach Computing summer school for early-career secondary computing teachers at the National STEM Learning Centre in York.

My university subject tutor from my teacher training year had forwarded some information about summer schools taking place and urged us to think about attending so we would be equipped to teach outside of our specialist subject if needed.

I had spent the year training as a secondary maths teacher but had been asked by the school I am completing my NQT year in if I was able to teach any other subjects alongside maths. Seeing that there was a shortage in computing teachers, I decided that it would be very beneficial for me to attend the summer school.

I went into this with very little prior knowledge of computing. I had done a bit of programming during my undergraduate degree but the majority of what was being taught on the course was completely new to me. I was apprehensive that the course may be too intense for me and hearing that other attendees were already computer science teachers or had previously taught the subject did make me think that I was getting in to something that I would find hard to understand.

However, the first day of the course made me feel very at ease and competent to continue and gain the accreditation. We were given a choice of two “tracks” to follow while on the course and although you could jump between the two, I chose to stay on track 2 for the whole course. Over the four days the courses I took part in were: The fundamentals of computer networks, The internet and cyber-security, Computer systems – input, output and storage and Computer processors.

The week was intense but very informative. We were given ideas for resources to use in the classroom, example exam questions and videos to use in class. All of the facilitators of the courses were very knowledgeable and took their time in explaining ideas and concepts. They were happy to answer any questions we had and always signposted us to other resources that we may have found useful.

Alongside the face-to-face courses during the week, we also had to complete an online course through FutureLearn before we could access the test. We were given optional study time where we could work through the course at our own pace and facilitators were on hand if we had any questions or concerns.

Once I had completed my online course and the test became available, I decided to try the test to see if I was understanding everything we were being taught. I was not very confident in my ability at that point in the week, but I scored 60%, just 5% away from the needed mark to pass. Doing this definitely helped my confidence and I passed the test on my second attempt after I had completed all the face-to-face courses.

Attending this summer school was very much outside of my comfort zone but I know it has enhanced my training year. I am passionate about life-long learning and am constantly trying to better myself so I can be the best version of myself for my students. I want them to know that I don’t know everything but I am willing to put in the time and work to improving myself, just like I want them to do during my lessons.

I urge anyone who is a computing teacher or an aspiring computing teacher to go on one of the courses provided by the NCCE or take a look at the online courses through FutureLearn.

Find out more about the Computer Science Accelerator here.