The academy’s successful application was recently confirmed, partly thanks to the opening of a hack lab designed to improve students’ computer skills and nurture their creativity.
The title is part of the CAS Network of Teaching Excellence in Computer Science (NoE) programme and comes with significant responsibility.
A lead school first has to prove that it recognises the importance of computer sciences in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) curriculum and produce a clear plan for progression. This includes cross-curricular opportunities. It also has to offer support to at least one other NoE registered school in the community and is expected to champion the programme to none members.
The NoE was established in 2012 as a collaborative project between CAS and BCS – The Chartered Institute for IT. Its aim is to provide training opportunities for both existing teachers and those training for the profession. This initiative is supported by The Department for Education, OCR (Oxford, Cambridge and RSA), CPHC (Council of Professors and Heads of Computing), Microsoft and Google.
With the Government calling for computer science to take on a more prominent role in education, England will become the first country in the world to mandate computer programming in both primary and secondary schools. This will undoubtedly increase the need for CAS master teachers.
Master teachers are teachers from leading schools who have taken part in extra training to become better equipped to help their school and others in the area develop the way they teach computer sciences.
‘Birches Head Academy’s appointment as a lead school is not only a boost for the school but for Staffordshire as a whole,’ enthused the academy’s master teacher designate, Owen Harding. ‘We are now publicly recognised as a resource for other teachers and schools in the county, helping to lead the way in the teaching of computer science.’