This paper summarises the rapid and radical developments during 2012-2013 in the K-12 school computing curriculum in UK. We draw out lessons from our experience that may be useful to others.
Computer science in UK schools is a subject in decline: the ratio of Computing to Maths A-Level students (i.e. ages 16-18) has fallen from 1:2 in 2003 to 1:20 in 2011 and in 2012. In 2011 and again in 2012, the ratio for female students was 1:100, with less than 300 female students taking Computing A-Level in the whole of the UK each year. Similar problems have been observed in the USA and other countries, despite the increased need for computer science skills caused by IT growth in industry and society.
In the UK, the Computing At School (CAS) working group was formed to try to improve the state of computer science in schools. Using a combination of grassroots teacher activities and policy lobbying at a national level, CAS has been able to rapidly gain traction in the fight for computer science in schools. We examine the reasons for this success, the challenges and dangers that lie ahead, and suggest how the experience of CAS in the UK can benefi other similar organisations, such as the CSTA in the USA.
The Computing at School (CAS) working group was formed in 2009 as a grassroots organisation with members drawn from schools, higher education and the computing industry. Their concern was the drop in applications for undergraduate computing courses and a dearth of specialists entering related professions. This paper studies the development of the organisation with respect to models of communities of practice. The methodology is a retrospective reflexive study based analysis of e-mail transactions to review the association’s activities and relationships with other stakeholders in computing education. Through this, the formation of a new professional community of practice is tracked and its characteristics established.