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The future of computer science education

Two Sunderland students are shaping the future of computer science in schools, through a prestigious BCS scholarship

Posted by Charley Rogers | July 03, 2017 | Higher education

Two ‘outstanding’ Sunderland students have been selected for a prestigious teaching scholarship which will see them nurture computer science subjects in secondary schools and colleges.

After a rigorous selection process, computing students James Hennerley and Matthew Dickinson, both due to graduate in the summer from the University of Sunderland, have been awarded British Computer Society (BSC) Teaching scholarships.

The scholarships scheme, launched in 2013, is one of BCS’ activities designed to support the building of teaching capacity in schools and encourage new computing teachers to the profession.

With changes to the national curriculum from traditional ICT to establishing computer science as a foundation subject, this has led to more incentives being made available for those who may be considering going into teaching.

Matt, 22, from Torquay, and James, 25, from Mobberley, will each receive a tax free scholarship worth £27,500, which allows them to study for 12 months for their Initial Teacher Training at university, as well as spend up to three days a week on placement in a selected local school. The funding is supplied by the Department for Education, and the course will lead to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) at secondary school level.

It’s an incredibly exciting opportunity, putting into practice what you’ve learned at university back into the classroom environment.

Both students were selected for the Scholarship due to their work ethic while at university, spending a year on an industry placement at Nissan, their performance during teaching sessions in a school environment, as well as impressing at the interview stage and showing a passion for teaching. Both are on course to achieve First Class degrees.

James, who impressed staff at Harton Technology College in South Shields, so much that he was asked to spend a month-long placement with them, commented: “I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of teaching. It wasn’t on the career plan in the early stages of my degree, but it’s very much what I’d like to do now. It’s certainly been a huge learning curve.

“I’m also fortunate to have completed a year-long placement in my third year with Nissan, in performance management, which also gives me that business experience I need to develop my own life skills and what I’m learning on my degree in case I’d like to return to industry at a later stage in my career.”

“I can’t thank the university enough for its support; we both landed great placements with the support of our lecturers, and the careers service advisors really helped out too. Overall the course has been great and hopefully we are able to take what we’ve learned at University back into the classroom to teach the next generation of computer scientists.”

Overall the course has been great and hopefully we are able to take what we’ve learned at University back into the classroom to teach the next generation of computer scientists.

Matt added: “We had heard of people getting grants and bursaries from the BCS, but not the actual scholarship. So I feel really honoured that we’ve both managed achieve this, it’s a great confidence boost both for the university and ourselves. The support from the university has been fantastic, even financially supporting our BCS interviews in London, and we’ve also been offered subject booster courses, so we’re really up-to-date in our field of knowledge. It’s an incredibly exciting opportunity, putting into practice what you’ve learned at university back into the classroom environment.”

Dr Siobhan Devlin, Principal Lecturer Learning and Teaching in the Faculty of Computer Science at the University of Sunderland, commented: “BCS selects just 120 students for scholarships each year from universities across the UK, and to have two students selected from our university highlights how well our accredited courses have prepared them and, more than that, how well they have applied themselves in order to secure the careers they deserve.

“Both James and Matt have been outstanding not only this year but throughout their time with us. They have studied hard and always taken advantage of every opportunity the university has offered them, and it is great to see this paying off for them. They are tremendously enthusiastic about their subject and I can see them becoming inspiring teachers.”

Find out more about scholarships at the university here.

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