Key into computer science debate

22nd March 2013 at 00:00

I would like to explain why, in my opinion, the number of applicants to computer science initial teacher training courses is low at the moment compared with numbers that are usual for this point in the recruitment cycle ("'Collapse' in trainee numbers could crash computer science plans", 22 February).

The most likely explanation is that people are waiting for the new statutory computing curriculum to be finalised before applying, but the curriculum is still undergoing public consultation and is therefore still unknown. It's quite understandable if applicants choose to wait until then, since that will determine what they will be teaching for the next 10 years or more.

A further complication is that the widely reported withdrawal of the English Baccalaureate Certificate qualifications led many to believe the English Baccalaureate (EBac) performance measure was also being withdrawn and, therefore, that computer science would not be recognised as a science. But the performance measure does still exist and computer science is now recognised by the Department for Education as the fourth science. Indeed, EBac subjects are now more significant since they feature prominently in the new average points score performance measure. This will create a strong demand for computer science teachers. Taking account of applications through the new School Direct route, which are not counted in the data you quoted, and the strong interest in our new #163;20,000 teacher training scholarships (more than 400 expressions of interest have now been received), I am sure the currently low numbers are a temporary phenomenon that will be resolved as long as potential applicants are made aware of the full picture.

Dr Bill Mitchell FBCS CITP FHEA, Director, BCS Academy of Computing.

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