Scholarship Testimonial- Vajih Bashir

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Why should more people consider applying for a scholarship?

If you are interested in making a real difference to young people in society and desire to become a computer science teacher; the BCS scholarship will be a great help in allowing you to fund yourself, your family as well as your studies in teacher training. The amount offered is tax free and furthermore aligning oneself to the prestige, support and training sessions of the British Computing Society can enhance career opportunities within education. If you manage to obtain a scholarship through the BCS process, you can be certain that you are the kind of person that will make a real impact on improving society through educating the coming generations.

Do you have any advice for someone considering a career change/thinking of becoming a teacher/applying for a scholarship?

You must share a real passion for working with young people and contributing to their development. You must take personal satisfaction and reward in those magical moments when students make progress particularly in those ‘lightbulb’ moments. This will make all the hard work in planning lessons worthwhile.

For the scholarship it is essential that you possess the subject knowledge required to teach but remember that you can possess all the subject knowledge in the world but that will not automatically replicate itself into you becoming a great teacher. Being honest and understanding which qualities you possess that are suited to the role and identifying development gaps and how you will improve them is just as important. The assessors are well recognised and accomplished individuals within the field, they will ascertain your qualities throughout the interviewing process, all you have to do is ‘be yourself’.

For becoming a teacher; you must look at improving your patience, understanding deeply the learning process and how you can develop your capabilities to meet the needs of all types of learners from all types of socio-economic backgrounds. Do not assume that you will have plenty of time for leisure in reference to the holidays within the school year, you will be working through these, whether in assessing work or developing yourself professionally (curriculum, subject knowledge) or even creating engaging classroom resources. Be prepared for an intensive year which will normally include planning and delivering lessons to varying expectations. Also be prepared for lots of reading to aid you in successfully completing assignments.

Tell me about your career - prior to getting your scholarship??

I completed a Software Engineering degree with honours and went on to obtain an MSc in Forensic Computing with merit. During my Masters level studies, I began employment in the IT industry, working as a web development manager and did so for 2 years. Following experience in the IT industry and in spite of being offered a PhD scholarship by the University, I transitioned my career into management within the banking industry. After 6 months of my first managerial role in banking and following exceptional results I successfully obtained a senior management post overlooking mortgages/banking and credit departments at another high street bank. I was in this post for over a year before taking a senior operations manager role within the logistics and distribution industry where I worked for over two years with considerable success.

Why did you opt for a career change??

My career took over my life and the travelling meant that I was unable to spend adequate if any time with my daughters who were now 2 and 1 years old respectively. This motivated me to investigate other career opportunities.

What made you decide to re-train as a computing teacher

Part of my role as a senior department and operations manager was to develop managers, large teams of frontline staff, as well as mentor graduates coming into the business. This was my most favourite part of the role, and as a youngster I had always desired to become an educator. I had experience as a youth worker and found young people to be the most interesting, engaging and challenging to work with, yet the most inspiring.

In combination with a lifelong passion for computing evidenced by my academic choices and achievements as well as my interest in all things computing related from the time I received my first computer at the age of nine. My parents have always remained as a source of inspiration to me and I credit them with all the successes that I have achieved. My father’s progressive thinking encouraged me towards education, personal development and particularly computing and I was interested in re-training as a computing teacher to instil the same desire in the coming generations. The family oriented lifestyle available within education motivated me to realise that I wanted to follow through on my desire to become a computing teacher.

What challenges did you have to overcome – if any?

Economic challenges were greatly reduced due to the scholarship funding. There were many personal challenges, particularly transitioning from a senior role to becoming a student again and starting from the bottom up. I was surprised by the lengthy amount of time I was dedicating to my development as a teacher and the pressures involved within education but was able to overcome all challenges by taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, managing my time effectively, being proactive and seeking guidance and support from the experienced, dedicated and committed individuals which make up this countries great education system. Hard work and an open minded attitude is key to success. I finished my teacher training successfully with an outstanding rating at both placements.

How did the scholarship help?

Without the scholarship I would have been unable to make the career change justifiable economically due to family and lifestyle commitments. The training sessions offered were relevant and the BCS accreditation was very helpful.

Have you managed to find employment?

Yes, The first job I applied for.

What are you looking forward to when you start your new role?

I begun my new role as a computer science teacher on the 4th of July 2016 within one of the best schools in the City. The school has not offered computer science as a subject before and I will be in charge of the first intake of computer science students. I have already begun breaking up the board specification and am in the process of building planning schemes and resources for the KS4 cohort. I am also looking forward to sharing the fun and excitement that the subject brings to young people from KS3 upwards and the life/career opportunities it makes available to them.

Why do you think teaching computing is important?

On wider implications: In today’s world, technology is at the forefront of human advancements from communication (apps/websites/smartphones) to machines which treat medical patients. Computing has made our day to day lives much easier. The basis and fundamentals to these advancements revolve around the application of computing theory. These advancements have also made it possible for us to explore not only inside our world but even outside into space. Hence if we want to advance even further as a species it is important that we teach computing to allow everyone in society to be able to contribute to developing within and beyond our world. On personal implications: Computing embeds the ability to analyse situations, break them up and bring solutions in a structured and logical manner. It also makes it necessary to think creatively. Hence teaching computing will allow people to improve their lives by developing in them the ability to think computationally.

How do you think the new computing curriculum will add to a child’s educational experience?

Students must learn to think like a computer and understand solid aspects of computing theory. The ability to think computationally and in abstract, will help children in other aspects of their life also. The new curriculum is particularly focused in the conjunction of theory to practice. This will certainly help a child’s educational experience as theory without any application is futile and application without theory is baseless. Students will start off immediately in computing matters previously taught at university.

What do you think the computing curriculum will achieve in the long term (for education/society/industry?)

For education; Universities will be able to move straight into the deeper aspects of computing as students will possess well-grounded pre-requisites in computing theory and practice. Although more standing knowledge by teachers will be required, short term this will cause great difficulty as ICT teachers look to develop their knowledge and skills within computing. For society; The ability to bring in abstract thinking along with computational analysis of life situations will only increase the standards of life and our ability to make the best decisions. Also an increase in technological developments will make for easier or better day to day lives for members of the society. Industry; The more people that enter the industry; competition within the industry will increase and I think that our pace of development for technology will increase exponentially. More knowledgeable students coming out through the education system will allow for advancements in industry. This will mean that the requirement for computing specialists and thinkers will increase hence creating employment opportunities.