Become a computer science teacher – everyone welcome!

03 December 2019

Computer science is a growing GCSE subject, presenting opportunities for teachers looking to develop their career. With only around 36% of teachers of GCSE holding a ‘specialist’ computer science qualification, the success of the subject depends on teachers joining the subject from across the curriculum.

While roughly 70% of GCSE and A level computer science lessons are taught by teachers with a post relevant A level qualification, the average for eBacc subjects is around 90%. The good news for students of computer science is that academic qualifications are not the only way for their teachers to acquire subject knowledge. In fact[1] “the wider international evidence suggests that being taught by teachers with a degree in the subjects they teach has little, if any, positive effect on pupil outcomes over the ages 11-18”.

There are actually more teachers in our subject with a qualification in business studies than there are teachers with a qualification in computer science! There are also high numbers of science, maths and D&T teachers, evidence of the close relationship computing knowledge holds to these other disciplines.

This ‘mix’ is perhaps not surprising. Most of today’s teachers were not offered computer science during their own school days, and it was not previously a common specialism during initial teacher training. Today recruitment of new computing trainee teachers remains below-target, increasing the bargaining power of experienced teachers coming to the subject from elsewhere in the curriculum.

If you’re a teacher picking up a few computer science lessons in addition to your main subject or switching subjects entirely, you’ve probably got some burning questions about what is taught, and how. It is quite different to the subject it replaced, ICT, which was largely a skills-based and coursework-heavy subject. Computer science involves classroom-based learning of a significant knowledge-based curriculum and the teaching approaches that have served you well in your own subject will be equally successful here.

The uniqueness of computer science emerges from the fundamental role of computer programming, where the theory is applied in creative and challenging ways. Many of the classroom organisation techniques used in other practical subjects apply here, too. In terms of pedagogy there are sure-fire methods and frameworks that can help you to be confident of the teaching of programming even if you feel only a few steps ahead of the students.

The Computer Science Accelerator CPD programme has been designed to support teachers becoming specialist subject teachers, no matter what their background and level of prior knowledge. Our new ‘Introduction to GCSE Computer Science’ course eases your way into developing deep subject knowledge, helping you orient yourself and gain confidence in the fundamentals of the subject. This course will soon be available to book onto at venues across the country - so keep your eyes peeled on our course page!

Take advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity and gain certification to help you to take control of your future.

Find out more about the Computer Science Accelerator Programme

[1] ‘Specialist and non-specialist’ teaching in England: Extent and impact on pupil outcomes (Dec 16, Department for education report)