What a difference a year makes

10 August 2020

Spencer Organ, Head of Computing and New Technology, talks to us about the impact of completing the Computer Science Accelerator, one year on.  

This time last year I was working hard to complete the face-to-face days and final assessment for the Computer Science Accelerator (CSA) by the 31 July 2019 deadline so that I would be in the first group of graduates at Google. I had spent six months working through the FutureLearn online units and this culminated in two face-to-face days and then completing the online test the same evening!

A year ago computing had all but fallen off the curriculum at my school, but it now has a new Head of Department (me), a doubling of curriculum time and the prospect of GCSE computer science starting in September 2021.

I feel very confident in saying that the experience of the CSA programme had a massive effect on my journey from physics teacher to head of computer science. The course not only secured and developed the skills and subject knowledge for me to deliver computer science at both key stage 3 and GCSE but also the skills to help support other colleagues in the school who will also be delivering the units.

Being heavily involved in the Raspberry Pi community since the launch 8 years ago I value both the physical and virtual communities in computing and computer science. There is a great range of support available both online and locally and I look forward to working with our SME in the new school year as we put together our GCSE action plan.

I have been working with colleagues at the NCCE and Raspberry Pi Foundation to adapt the excellent curriculum resources and scheme of work to be used in my school.  Using my new confidence, I am now also the East Birmingham CAS community coordinator and have both attended and run virtual meetings during the lockdown time.  I am looking forward to running more in the new term, particularly around physical computing and computational thinking.

As a direct result of the CAS and NCCE training and meetings, I have been working with members of the school leadership team during the lockdown, producing training materials for both staff and students on using Teams, Microsoft Forms and delivering effective remote online lessons. This has been very rewarding but has also had challenges as I tried to support students without access to computers or mobile devices.

During the lockdown time, I used my “morning commute time” to complete two more online courses around SQL and computer systems in preparation for teaching GCSE CS in the future.

With so many unknowns facing us in September, I feel very positive and am looking forward to continuing my journey with the NCCE and using what I have learnt in my new Head of Department role.

Spencer Organ is the Head of Computing and New Technology at KESH Academy Birmingham.  He is passionate about ensuring all students have access to high-quality digital skills and digital making opportunities.

As well as blogging at themakercupboard.space he can often be found running events and supporting workshops at events around the country.