CAS takes the open-source community as a model, that of a community of volunteers working towards a common goal. This model has a profound impact on the shape of the organisation:
- CAS is school led. The primary way that things get done is by volunteers (teachers, or professionals who give their time to work in schools) rolling up their sleeves and doing it. The role of CAS’s paid staff is primarily to inspire, motivate, equip, and support those volunteers, rather than to provide a service to teachers.
- Membership of CAS is open to all (excluding school age pupils), in the expectation that members will actively contribute to their community. No membership subscription fee is charged: members are not buying a service, they are joining a supportive community of practice.
Our basic premise is that good professional relationships between supportive peers underlie the best and most effective teacher professional development. The formation of regional hubs has been the centre point of CAS activity. The Network of Excellence (NoE) builds on this by finding, recruiting and training those who can deliver local, face-to-face, peer-to-peer training and support. The network of support created by CAS (and the NoE) builds communities of practice by harnessing expertise in local schools and local faculty.
CAS enables teachers to connect in the spirit of learning, knowledge sharing and collaboration to further their own professional development and thus raise the standard of teaching in their schools. CAS maintains that professional development is a very human process, based on professional relationships and confidence levels of the people involved. This is best delivered in a teacher's own community and involves local, face-to-face, peer-to-peer engagement with online support where necessary.
Like the open-source community, CAS's volunteer effort is only effective when it is given leadership, direction, vision, and coordination. The teacher community needs effective strategic leadership, especially at this time of curriculum change.
With a large and growing membership including all nations in the UK that leadership takes real effort. To do so, CAS has formed a number of Regional Centres (CRC) which are best placed to provide coordination and encouragement for local hubs and other CPD activity. These local teams then take responsibility for ensuring the development of local/regional communities of practice and support the volunteer community in their area. Each centre is responsible for working with the CAS Master Teachers in their area to promote and support relevant teacher engagement and CPD activities, with the ultimate aim of establishing effective and enduring local communities of practice involving Master Teachers, Lead Schools and local CAS Hubs. The CAS Regional Centres are also helping CAS Master Teachers further extend their subject knowledge, so they can better support other teachers in their communities and are promoting best 'on-the-ground' practice.
Each of the current CRCs are based in leading universities, each are highly respected within their communities and effective at galvanising engagement:
|CAS East of England||University of Hertfordshire|
|CAS East Midlands||Nottingham Trent University|
|CAS London||Kings College London/Queen Mary's College|
|CAS North East||Newcastle University|
|CAS North West - Lancaster||Lancaster University|
|CAS North West - Manchester||University of Manchester|
|CAS South East||University of Southampton|
|CAS South West||Plymouth University|
|CAS West Midlands||Birmingham City University|
|CAS Yorkshire and the Humber||University of York|
In addition, and perhaps more importantly, the CRCs provide a point of focus for schools and teachers in the region and ensure better locally focused communication. They ensure a regional spread and support and offer a mechanism for effective management of the DfE funding with the flexibility to match resource to regional need as the following case study from CAS North West (Manchester) exemplifies:
Case Study of University of Manchester a CAS Regional Centre Key Contact: Dr David Rydeheard, Senior Lecturer, School of Computer Science
Support from the university for computing in schools includes:
- 100 computer science undergraduates go out into schools to help teachers in the classroom each term ? 1300 schools across the country entered the department’s annual computer animation competition in 2015
- Ran various joint education ventures with external organisations, such as BBC Media City, Robogals, Code First Girls, Code Club, Coder Dojo and TeachFirst
- Created and ran the iTech fair attended by 300 pupils at the Manchester Science Museum
- Runs an annual "Think Teaching" week with Teach First to encourage undergraduates to think about teaching as a possible career
- Runs the Manchester CAS Hub, reaching a network of over 500 local schools
The University of Manchester plays a lead role in developing national strategies for introducing computing into schools, such as the work of Professor Steve Furber FRS FREng CBE who chaired the Royal Society panel for the Computing in School report: 'Shut down or restart?', which was influential in introducing computing as a statutory subject.
"There is no them - only us"