The UK currently faces a critical skills shortage in the technology sector. The BBC and 29 partners aimed to help change that in 2016 by launching the BBC micro:bit a pocket-sized codeable computer with motion detection, a built-in compass and Bluetooth technology into all secondary schools. A micro:bit was given free to every child in year 7 or equivalent across the UK in 2016. The BBC micro:bit was the BBC's most ambitious education initiative in 30 years, with an ambition to inspire digital creativity and develop a new generation of tech pioneers.
At Computing At School it was recognised that many secondary teachers of computing were not equipped to use a device like the micro:bit effectively with their classes as they themselves, did not have the skills, knowledge, understanding and attitudes associated with delivering this aspect of the curriculum. In order to ensure that the teachers were confident to use the micro:bits effectively with their pupils a national training programme was organised using the 10 CAS Regional Centres as the venues. Every teacher (600) that attended was asked to regard themselves as a micro:bit trainer and to cascade the training to other teachers within their networks.
Due to the motivating nature of the micro:bit most teachers were happy to train other teachers on it’s use and so the reach of this training programme has been very successful.
At the BETT show in 2017 many primary teachers expressed an interest in using the micro:bit with their pupils although it was initially designed for secondary age pupils. This coincided with a British government initiative designed to increase social mobility in 12 geographical (opportunity) areas and a DfE request for CAS to increase their CPD activity in those areas. As a result of this, CAS is now running a primary (elementary) micro:bit project within those 12 areas. The project focuses on a cross curricular scheme of work (literacy, numeracy, IT and computer science, science, design and technology, art and design and geography) and the micro:bit is a key component of the teaching and learning. The micro:bit foundation has donated a large number of micro:bits to support the project in around 400 schools. CAS provides training for the delivery of the project to a CAS Hub within the area and the Hub then cascades the training for their project schools. Every school involved in the project is expected to write a case study after they have taught the scheme of work and these are then shared with the CAS community. The case studies are available here http://community.computingatschool.org.uk/resources/4991
CAS and the Micro:Bit Foundation supporting the delivery of the Hungarian digital education
In September 2017 representatives from CAS and the Micro:Bit Foundation attended a conference in Budapest, Hungary. In a collaboration between CAS, The Chartered Institute for IT (BCS), The Micro:Bit Foundation, The British Council, The British Embassy, and other parties the next steps for a partnership in supporting the delivery of the Hungarian digital education plans have agreed that the British practice offers a number of useful models worthy of adoption in Hungary, including teacher training and other best practice. The follow up to this initial discussion is that a delegation of Hungarian government officials and teachers will be attending the BETT exhibition in London in January 2018 and will be visiting Computing At School Lead schools learn how the CAS community of practice works on an operational basis. It is also hoped that the BCS Certificate of Computer Science Teaching (http://www.bcs.org/category/19012) can be accredited for Hungarian teachers.