The CAS Virtual Showcase opens on Monday 21 June with a fortnight's programme of exciting events, run in association with the NCCE. It features Keynote Speaker Baasit Siddiqui who, along with his family, is a staple part of hit show, Gogglebox. Away from the screen Baasit is an experienced computer science teacher and runs his own company working with disadvantaged young people. Victoria Temple caught up with him ahead of his webinar for CAS.
Tell us about your teaching career – and the impact of being part of TV’s Gogglebox.
I was a secondary teacher of business, ICT and computer science for over a decade and a head of department. During my time as a teacher, I became a part of the Channel 4 series Gogglebox. I noticed that this experience on television became a really unique and interesting way to engage all students and help further develop relationships even with less engaged students.
In 2018 I made the decision to combine my experiences as an educator and my connections with television to create a series of workshops and competitions aimed at increasing engagement, skills and confidence of all students. In particular I wanted to engage those students who were disadvantaged for whatever reason. I’d mainly worked with students from a disadvantaged background for close to four years, and it allowed me to develop strategies, and networks with fantastic organisations on a similar mission. Through this I am now able to share my experiences and advice with other teachers wanting to make an impact with their most disadvantaged students.
Have you been involved with CAS previously? Do you think it’s important for teachers to have ways of sharing skills and resource with organisations like CAS?
The work that CAS does and the opportunities it provides to teachers are so important. When the move was made from ICT to computer science, I saw first-hand the level of uncertainty and anxiety the shift caused students. The resources, updates, events and overall support CAS provides is sorely needed to support teachers in an ever-changing subject, and this in turn benefits the students.
Can you tell us a bit about Siddiqui Education?
The main aim of Siddiqui Education is to support disadvantaged students, to ensure they feel they have the ability, confidence and knowledge to progress as best as they can do during and after school. Through this I’ve developed my own experiences and the work Siddiqui Education does includes teacher training around racial literacy, unconscious bias, and ways to support social mobility.
Although COVID and the lockdowns have been a challenge as a small business owner, I’ve been able to pivot the business by creating a series of digital services. This includes support for teaching staff, students and parents in their well-being and career goals. The fact I was able to do this with a positive mindset is something I now share with students to inspire them further.
Do you think the closures of schools because of the pandemic has highlighted the need for good digital skills?
COVID certainly highlighted the importance of digital skills and showed that the potential for blended learning is a possibility. Due to the nature of why lockdowns had to happen, naturally it wasn’t as perfect as it could be. However, I thought it was amazing to see how fast schools adapted to support their students, coupled by Ed Techs and other services wanting to support schools.
What about the impact of the ‘digital divide’?
One of the key things COVID highlighted was the digital divide – which needs to be addressed. I don’t think the true nature of its impact has been seen fully yet. Supporting disadvantaged students to have as enriched a school experience as their fellow non-disadvantaged students has been a key priority of schools.
How do you think we should be addressing this?
It is good that the issue of the divide has been brought to light and the hope is that support can be provided at a higher level. However, schools and staff have always been fantastic at adapting to the specific needs of their students. So, if that means non-digital alternatives have to be considered, schools would accommodate that. It’s just a shame that they have to. I’m excited to see how Ed Techs consider the divide too. For instance, I’ve been excited to see TTS and their new Kitt learning companion. It’s been designed with the digital divide in mind. There will be other providers considering this too.
Your CAS Showcase talk is titled - Accessing Aspirations through Digital Literacy. Could you give us a bit of a preview of the kind of topics you'll be covering?
My talk encompasses my experiences having worked in over a hundred schools in the last three years and the way in which I have seen that digital literacy can help build confidence, allow engagement, and give young people a drive when considering their futures. I go on to talk about how I believe digital literacy is a tool that can support social mobility and why encouraging the use of digital literacy and more importantly, the transferable skills developed through this, is so important.
You can register to attend Baasit's session using the following link: Accessing Aspirations through Digital Literacy
For a full list of all events and to book, click here.
Download our Virtual Showcase e-brochure here.
You can also catch up on any sessions you've missed on our GoToStage channel: CAS Virtual Showcase Recordings.