BCS has been awarded a three-year contract by the Department for Education (DfE) to deliver a scholarship programme for computer science teachers.
The Initial Teacher Training Scholarship Programme was launched by the DfE to provide funding for eligible applicants to encourage more people to train to teach science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects.
Scholarships for supported subjects are run by industry bodies, with BCS having managed the Computing scholarship programme for the past five years. Julia Adamson, director of education at BCS, described the three-year contract as a “vote of confidence” in the work the organisation has been doing.
The BCS has attracted 1,700 applicants for the scholarship in the past, and 500 of those have gone on to train to teach computing in schools in England.
The scholarship is intended to give people the skills they need to deliver the computing curriculum. As well as funding, applicants are given access to support, training and resources.
The UK’s computing curriculum was introduced both to encourage more young people into tech careers, and to make sure people have the basic digital skills to navigate modern life.
But a majority of teachers do not feel they have the skills needed to teach coding, and many say teachers do not have the proper support to deliver the computing curriculum or advise young people on available tech careers.
In 2017, the government failed to reach its target for the number of computing teachers recruited. It has been working to fix this, and early this year announced the launch of a National Centre of Computing Science Education to help it achieve its commitment to train up to 8,000 computing teachers.
Adamson said: “While computer science teaching is an attractive proposition for graduates, over two-thirds of scholarship applicants have been later-in-life career changers. These are often people who have practical IT experience from industry, and who want to ‘give back’ and encourage our young people in the career path they love so much.”
According to Adamson, one-third of the successful scholars so far have been women, and this will contribute to ensuring there are more female role models in the classroom to encourage young women into tech.
A majority of young women have claimed in the past that they wanted more encouragement from women in technical roles, and role models play an important part in ensuring people from more diverse backgrounds choose the tech industry.
By encouraging more people to become computing teachers, there is a hope that more will be inspired to go into tech, helping to close the UK’s growing technology skills gap, which is leaving many firms without the skilled workers they need to fill roles. This could be addressed more quickly if more women are encouraged to take up tech roles.
The BCS has previously commented on the “depressing” lack of diversity in the technology industry, and is also working to tackle the tech skills gap, recently launching a Register for IT Technicians to recognise those with tech skills.
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