COMPUTING & IT RESOURCES Tackling the computing teacher skills shortage

This month in his regular column discussing topics in computing, MOHAMMED REHMEN, Programme Team Leader in Computing at Arden University, delves into the reasons behind there being a shortage of computing teachers, and the impact this is having on students.

The Government’s Shortage Occupation List is a response to the lack of skilled workers in a variety of sectors, including health workers, chefs, software developers and aircraft engineers. You may be surprised by the fact that secondary school teachers in Computing are also on the list. The government census of ITT places across a variety of subjects shows that recruitment has been below target since 2012 across subjects such as Computing, Science and Maths. Given the importance placed on digital skills and the impact they have on business competitiveness, a lack of suitably qualified teachers in Computing is going to significantly impact on the numbers of pupils able to take Computing as a subject and carry it through to further study and beyond. Why are there not enough Computing teachers? One reason may be that in the economy as a whole the demand

for Computing practitioners far outweighs supply, so suitably qualified candidates are being tempted into much more lucrative roles elsewhere. Bursaries of up to £25,000 are being offered to students undertaking Computing teacher training courses and in July the Government announced extra funding for education so that teachers could get a pay rise. Is this enough, given that a large number of teachers are also leaving the profession citing reasons such as stress and workload? What about those teachers already in schools who were impacted by the curriculum changes introduced in 2014,

which replaced ICT with a more ‘rigorous’ programme of study? The Royal Society ‘After the Reboot’ report found that nearly half of the 945 primary and secondary teachers they surveyed reported a lack of confidence in their ability to teach to the new curriculum. For new trainee teachers this isn’t necessarily a problem, as training providers adjust their programmes to address the new curriculum, but for teachers ‘in the field’ continuing professional development is essential so that they can update their skills. The Computing at Schools Initiative has emerged as a key resource, a community of educators that has more than 29,000 members and aims to provide access to resources, training and networking opportunities. It’s clear that the new digital economy requires workers with the technical skills that businesses need to compete in the global marketplace.

Computing educators are key enablers of these skills and resources must be focused on encouraging, developing and retaining those individuals that make the commitment to training the innovators of the future.

uFor more information about Arden University, please visit T

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January 2020

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