In collaboration with Manchester Digital Skills Network, The Sharp Project hosted an innovative and inspiring event for secondary teachers and careers leads to inspire, inform and create new approaches to tackling the computing curriculum and encouraging more creative digital careers. 21 teachers attended from 23 schools across Greater Manchester. The event was well received, with attendees finding the event insightful and inspirational;

“I now have a better understanding of the problems between schools, employers and the government with regards to preparing students for careers. I will now look at better ways to prepare them for the industry but within the GCSE spec.”  Computer Science teacher, Manchester Communication Academy.

The Sharp Project is home to over 60 different creative digital businesses and whilst this sector is one of the fastest growing in the UK, last year employers in Manchester had to turn away over 56% of work offered to them as they didn’t have the staff to carry it out. (Manchester Digital Stats). The  Computing, Curriculum and Careers event aimed to address this issue by giving secondary schools in Manchester the knowledge and skills to future proof their students for successful careers, through a variety of different activities including;

Talks by keynote speakers: 

– Mike Blackburn OBE (Vice President BT Global Services/Manchester LEP Chairman)

– Alison Vincent (Chief Technology Officer at Cisco)

– Christine Bellamy (Head of Business Operations BBC Design & Engineering).

The keynotes covered topics from future careers for students and skill gaps in the industry to undersubscribed digital jobs at the BBC which the teachers found insightful;

“The female speakers were an inspiration and very interesting to listen to. Thankyou for a very informative event, I thoroughly enjoyed it.” Sue Jones, Cedar Mount Academy

The event also included a tour of The Sharp Project and a Networking lunch to provide a forum for teachers to meet other subject leaders and discover the businesses that work at The Sharp Project

“The event provided excellent networking opportunities and knowledge of the facilities available for students to tour.” Teacher Attendee via Survey Monkey

Teachers then had the choice of four interactive creative digital sessions with practical takeaways for the classroom including workshops and surgeries from;

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Based on their work on an industry brief with West Island School in Hong Kong, the workshop showed how the creation of 3D models and virtual environments can be an accessible activity in the classroom to enhance learning. Computeam demonstrated how a theme can be developed along with a cross curricular brief, resulting in virtual and augmented reality outputs. The workshop involved Google cardboard, an ancient Maya pyramid, a WW1 trench and a Megaloceros Giganteus. Teachers found this workshop particularly inspiring:

“I learned about industry skills gaps and saw alternative uses for Raspberry PI and VR. After this event I am looking at developing our use of VR cross curricular. I am also going to be looking at our Computing Curriculum to ensure it includes enough variety of skill. It was an excellent event. Relevant and pertinent information were discussed. Lots to take back to pupils and colleagues alike.” Teacher Attendee via survey monkey

This session gave teachers the skills and tools to run digital making activities such as code challenges and hack events, in or outside the classroom. Teachers came away with links to tech companies and a free copy of the ‘Hive Playbook’ – their own digital making planning tool, in a card deck. Many teachers were also encouraged to form their own ‘Coderdojo’ after this workshop with one teacher commenting; “…From this event I am hoping to contact Damien (Hive Manchester) and arrange a Coderdojo. I’m looking forward to the next one.”

Teachers explored physical coding with PatternCraft, an analogue to digital punchcard reader. As a powerful tool for engaging children with industrial and computing heritage, PatternCraft teaches the fundamentals of encoding and decoding data through the write-once medium of a physical punchcard. In this workshop, teachers generated coded patterns and used the PatternCraft reader to build them in Minecraft using Raspberry Pi and Python coding.

Teachers also joined Noise Orchestra to create their very own noise machine instrument. Using electronics, light and colour, attendees created a light theremin circuit they can improvise with and translate light into sound.

“I gained a lot of creative curriculum ideas and an awareness of the network I have available to me as a Computing teacher in Greater Manchester. I will now consider more practical, application based projects for my learners, not just dry theory.” – Teacher attendee via Survey Monkey

Teachers found out how to get the most out of CAS community and more importantly how to request a CPD session to enhance their subject knowledge. They were also informed about how to find out the latest updates on CAS in Manchester and be informed of where to find Master Teachers, CPD events and local CAS hubs.

Attendees also had the opportunity to see how MCA is filling what many feel are gaps in the new Computer Science National curriculum: Creativity and Digital Literacy. MCA also handed out samples of the curriculum mapped from Key Stage 1 through KS4 and across both A-Level and Degree level courses in central Manchester.

With the curriculum becoming more focused on programming and the more technical side of computing, it is more crucial than ever that young people are exposed to effective use of tech across all aspects of their education and everyday life. This workshop provided a hands on opportunity to try simple activities on phones and tablets to give quick wins in using tech effectively.

Attendees were invited to discover the most sought after creative digital skills in the workplace, to the work into their curriculum back at school and give their students the edge in future careers. Educators were able to find out what a day in an apprentice’s life looks like and the things our apprentices wished school taught them before they took the plunge into their creative digital careers.

  • “I am hoping to set up a coding club with the help of Hive. Loved the format, I thought it worked really well. The workshops were good too. As head of careers, I personally enjoyed speaking to the apprentices.” Teacher via Survey Monkey

The White Room delivered a sample workshop from Digital Advantage, their Digital Finishing School. Ideation is the process of generating, developing and communicating new ideas. By creating a fun, playful and open environment, The White Room uses Ideation techniques to encourage their Digital Advantage participants to push themselves to think differently. In this workshop, attendees were taken through some example techniques that The White Room use to develop original, practical solutions to business idea generation and gave them the tools to take back to the classroom.

The White Room also introduced Kloodle, a social network for learners, employers and teachers. They demonstrated how a student’s profile is built, how teachers can measure the impact of Kloodle and interact with students within a private school or college network. They were then given the opportunity to create their own school, college or teacher profile for free and learned how to use them in their classrooms in their own institutions.

The workshops not only enhanced teachers CPD but also gave them inspirational techniques and ideas for the computing curriculum back in the classroom. For careers leads, the event also gave them a first-hand insight into the vast array pf careers in the creative digital growth sector with everyone taking away new knowledge, industry contacts and digital resources for their students;

“I will continue to attend events like this and upskill our knowledge. I was very impressed with the content and hospitality shown.” – Sue Jones, Cedar Mount Academy

Overall, teachers found the event inspiring and innovative and left with a greater knowledge of the creative digital sector, industry contacts and fresh ways of presenting the curriculum to their students in a modern and career-relevant way.

“Very insightful afternoon of CPD at The Sharp Project. Thanks to SharpFutures for the invitation!” – Adam Farrand, Collective Spirit Middle School

“I took away information about emerging job sectors and connections with businesses. It was really helpful – next year please!” – Attendee

To see the Storify of this event from social media, click here: https://storify.com/SharpFutures/computing-curriculum-and-careers-event-11th-novemb

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