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21 March 2024

Fast-track your vision for Computing with TEALS

Over the last year I’ve been part of a team at BCS working to bring the Microsoft TEALS (Technology, Education and Learning Support) programme to the UK.  

The programme was founded in the US in 2009 with the aim of reducing the Computer Science Education access gap, and that's done by pairing industry professionals with classroom teachers to support the delivery of Computer Science in secondary school computing classes.

Since it started, TEALS in the US has supported over 2000 teachers, engaged more than 6700 volunteers, and reached more than 100,000 students. 

With support from Microsoft and The Hg Foundation, BCS is adapting TEALS for the UK, starting in England.  Over the last 8 months we’ve engaged with 10 schools and recruited and trained nearly 30 volunteers. 

TEALS volunteers work with computing teachers, helping them to plan and deliver more effective and engaging computing lessons. They do this through a regular commitment of time, sharing their computer science subject expertise and bringing industry context for the benefit of the teacher and their students. 

It’s been fantastic to work with the ten schools involved in the pilot programme.  We’ve learnt so much together and we’ll continue to do so. We’re building a community of TEALS teachers and in the 2024-2025 academic year you’ll be supported not only by the team at BCS, but you’ll also be connecting with existing and new TEALS teachers to share best practice and align this with your vision for computing. I’m looking forward to accepting more schools, passionate about adding leadership capacity to their computing department, to the programme and extending the reach and impact of TEALS.  

“Since establishing the TEALs programme within our school, we have found that student engagement has increased within the Computing classes being supported by our professionals. The level of technological cognizance the volunteers bring into the classroom, along with enthusiasm and experiences of how Computing is applied to real-world scenarios, mean that this invaluable resource has inspired our learners and provided educators with highly-skilled, professionals who can complement and work alongside existing pedagogy.” - Matt Ryder, Joseph Leckie Academy

Applications are open for the 2024-25 TEALS programme in England

Applications have now opened for Schools to apply to be part of the next wave of TEALS. 

The mission of TEALS is to increase access to high quality computing education for students who are underserved or underrepresented in computing. The CAS community is all too aware of the challenges schools can face in providing great computing lessons for all children, and the limited diversity of those who pursue qualifications. Many of us have often talked about the potential of volunteers from industry to help us tackle these challenges. Our hope is that TEALS can support schools to work effectively with volunteers on a regular basis. 

We are looking for schools in England to join the 2024-25 cohort. Participating schools will need meet the following requirements: 

Already offer computing at KS3, Offer computer science GCSE at KS4 or have ambition to  

Serve an area of priority need (higher FSM) and/or students underrepresented in computing  

Are committed to enriching and enhancing their computing curriculum  

Have at least one Computing Teacher committed to developing their subject knowledge  

Aspire to increase the number of students studying computing and improving attainment

BCS supports schools participating in the pilot by helping to recruit volunteers from industry, conducting Enhanced DBS checks and training to prepare volunteers to go into schools, and assisting you and your volunteers to work as a team for you and your students. 

I'm often working with computing leaders who are facing challenges in developing a comprehensive and creative computing curriculum.  They often highlight two key obstacles: a lack of capacity and subject knowledge among the wider delivery team. While various strategies like professional development and leveraging non-specialist staff exist, recent difficulties in teacher availability for industry placements have shifted focus to online professional development. Amidst these challenges, a fresh perspective is crucial.  Benefits to schools include: 

  • Teachers adjusting their schemes of work to include shared contextual content 
  • A more diverse delivery team through the diversity of TEALS volunteers 
  • Increased dynamics and flexibility in delivering lessons through effect deployment of volunteers to support targeted groups of students 
  • An increased feeling of ‘family’ in the classroom with a teaching team rather than just a teacher 
  • Enhanced enrichment opportunities through links to the volunteer’s employer 

These benefits show the positive impact not only on the development of your department staff, but also the aspirations of the students in your classroom, helping more to see real life applications of computing. 

Whilst we want to keep financial and resource commitments as minimal as possible for schools, there are some requirements which are necessary for successful operation of the programme: 

Senior leadership support for the Computing department to engage in TEALS 

Computing teacher time to participate in training, planning with volunteers, providing feedback and data to support evaluation 

Computing team time for planning and CPD, to maximise use of volunteers 

Identify appropriate lessons where volunteer engagement can take place through analysis of existing timetables and volunteer availability

Ensure volunteers are given an induction to your school, your department and provide access to schemes of work to enable volunteers to prepare and maximise their impact 

Make arrangements to accommodate volunteers at your school on a regular basis  

Capture TEALS classes in action and share best practice with the wider TEALS community. 

“Yesterday I had my first meeting at the school I am volunteering at and have to say immediately knew I had made the right decision to volunteer on the TEALS programme! It took me back to my school days and I remembered how my desire to forge a career in IT stemmed from my year 11 IT class and teachers.”

 - Aminu, TEALS volunteer 

If you think that TEALS could help fast-track your vision for Computing, do consider applying. 

Spaces are limited, and we’re keen to get schools confirmed so we can begin the search for volunteers as soon as possible. 

We’ve recorded a short webinar which explains more about the programme – you’ll find it on the CAS youtube channel here