Minister for Education Norma Foley TD today announced Ireland’s first-ever Computer Science Week taking place from 8-15 October. The week’s events will showcase the exciting benefits and cutting edge opportunities of Computer Science for students while shining a light on the impressive developments in classrooms around Ireland.
Organised by the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) with the support of the Department of Education, the event will provide students with stimulating, interactive opportunities to ‘taste’ the subject, and provide information to students, teachers, guidance counsellors and parents.
Computer Science became a Senior Cycle subject in schools in 2018 and is growing in popularity, with 1,604 students sitting the Leaving Certificate Computer Science examination in 2022.
Minister Foley said:
“Computer Science is an extremely important part of our offering to students, helping to ensure ensuing that they have the skills they need for the modern world.
“I would like to thank the school communities pioneering this great work, and the industry partners that investing their energy, expertise and enthusiasm to inspiring, not just the next generation of computer scientists, but all students taking the course, who will progress to many other disciplines where a knowledge of computer science will be of great benefit.
“I am particularly delighted that this week will see the launch of a new buddy system, connecting teachers and schools with 'buddies' from industry, from other schools and higher and further education. Buddies will be able to use the online system to register the types of support they can offer, and this will be a great resource for our teachers.”
A national conference to mark Computer Science Week will take place on 13th October in Athlone, with student workshops, exhibitions from industry, as well as project exhibits from primary and post-primary schools. The keynote address at the conference will be delivered by Lorraine Underwood, maker, author and senior teaching associate at Lancaster University. Lorraine’s passion is making physical computing creations to showcase how creative Computer Science can be. This conference is based on the CSforALL event hosted by Dr Cornelia Connolly at University of Galway in 2019 and will celebrate the fantastic work being done by Computer Science teachers and young people across the education system, sharing some of the many wonderful examples of country-wide industry-education collaborations and featuring a range of experts highlighting opportunities in the area of computer science.
The event is open to all (places are limited) and interested parties can register from Eventbrite here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/computer-science-week-2022-national-conference-tickets-422908539827
The inaugural Computer Science Week programme includes live workshops for schools to be delivered by subject experts, and webinars aimed at parents, guidance counsellors, principals, students and anyone interested in finding out more about computer science – the opportunities it creates and the supports available to schools that are thinking of introducing this fantastic subject as part of their curriculum. More information and a full timetable of events will be published through the PDST computer science twitter account, @PDSTcs using the #csweek hashtag.
As Computer Science week falls at the same time as EU Code Week, event organisers are encouraged to register their events on the EU Code Week website, https://codeweek.eu/.
A highlight of the week will be the launch of the buddy system – a practical Department of Education initiative designed to support a Computer Science culture in schools – building teacher capacity and confidence to introduce the Leaving Certificate Computer Science curriculum. An online system will connect teachers and schools with industry ‘buddies’ and third level/further educators who will offer a range of supports for teachers and schools.
Notes to Editors
In November 2020, Minister for Education announced details of a new industry framework to support the implementation of the new subject Leaving Certificate Computer Science. The Framework is being introduced in line with the STEM Education Policy Statement 2017 – 2026.
This support framework aims to sustain the momentum of recent curriculum innovation led by the NCCA and contribute to a strong professional community of Computer Science teachers into the future. It puts in place key actions to promote a broad take-up of the subject with a focus on actions to support greater female participation and greater participation amongst students that would not have traditionally considered the subject and to promote visible career paths such as apprenticeships and Level 5, 6 NFQ programmes in Further Education and Training (FET).
The framework has been developed by an industry and Department of Education partnership, including representatives of the Computers in Education Society of Ireland (CESI), Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST), Irish University Association (IUA), higher education institutions, Technology Ireland/Ibec, SOLAS, Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) and Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI).
Buddy System to be launched during Computer Science Week
The buddy system is a practical Department of Education initiative designed so that schools and teachers can be supported to learn more about the subject of computer science by collaborating with business and industry, higher education institutions and further education and training providers. The overarching aim is to build a Computer Science culture in schools – building teacher capacity and confidence to introduce the Leaving Certificate Computer Science curriculum. The buddy system will provide a means of connecting teachers and schools with 'buddies' from industry, from schools and from higher/further education. Buddies, who will be required to adhere to each individual schools' policies including those relating to child protection, Garda vetting, GDPR etc., will be able to use the system to register the types of support they can offer. The teachers and schools that are interested in availing of additional support will be able to choose from a menu of supports to meet their own needs.
This initiative will also complement and supplement what is already happening in many schools and pivot organisations that are already involved to target schools that are not availing of potential support. Many organisations already have programmes in place to support teachers and schools and it is envisaged that these could dovetail readily into the new buddy system. Over time, the buddy system has the potential to become a focal point for high-quality information and events that are relevant to computer science educators and students at primary and post-primary level in Ireland.