Can a non-specialist teach computing?
12 May 2021
At this time in the academic calendar, senior leaders will find themselves wrestling with a timetable for next year with more computing lessons than computing teachers available. They may well look for capacity in other areas: business teacher A is three periods light, history teacher B has four periods - that’s Year 7 sorted now Year 8.
Soon subject leaders will find out which teachers of which subjects will be transient members of their department in September: the standard business teacher, the PE NQT, ooh my first music teacher...how am I ever going to support them all?
Teachers will discover they will be teaching computing lessons next year: Excitement! Panic! Oh no, not again! What’s computing?
All three of these groups probably share a common concern: can a non-specialist teach computing effectively? The Ofsted framework is explicit that teachers should have expert knowledge of the subjects they teach and be supported to address any gaps in knowledge. The Computer Science Accelerator can provide this support.
Funded by the Department for Education, Computer Science Accelerator is a professional development programme for teachers leading to a nationally recognised certificate in computer science subject knowledge. Generous bursaries are available to enable teachers to be released for training, with a range of courses for all abilities.
Pathways for second subject teachers:
The NCCE has launched several new to computing pathways specifically to support teachers from the following subjects:
- Business studies
- Humanities and PSHE
- Modern foreign languages
- Music, art and media
Developing computing not only eases timetabling concerns but can also provide more career opportunities. Many non-specialists have already benefited from the programme, such as MFL teacher Rebecca Cornell who, after achieving the subject knowledge certificate, has become Head of Computing!
“I have found the online courses, as part of the Computer Science Accelerator programme, to be really useful in building confidence and taking my skills further.”
Encouraging teachers to participate in the Computer Science Accelerator and achieve the subject knowledge certificate will give senior leaders confidence that all computing teachers have expert knowledge. It will reduce the subject leader's workload by providing the subject knowledge support for colleagues from non-computing backgrounds, giving confidence to the non-specialist teacher and inspiring them to embrace computing as a permanent second subject. Computing teachers no longer need to be the missing piece from the timetable puzzle.
So, can non-specialists teach computing? With support from the NCCE - Yes, they can, most definitely...
You can start your journey now by enrolling at teachcomputing.org/cs-accelerator and booking one of the above pathways or any other CPD.
Alternatively, you can find out more about the new computing pathways and the benefits of teaching computing as a second subject by attending a short webinar.