The Computing At School team from the North West (Manchester) Regional Centre at The University of Manchester are proud to have been nominated and then be announced winners of the award for 'Outstanding Contribution to Widening Participation'.
In 2015 the school was awarded Department of Education funding to create a Regional Centre to support the teaching of Computer Science (CS) in the North West. This has enabled the creation of a dedicated team employed exclusively to support schools and school teachers across the region. These activities are recognised widely as delivering a highly successful computing outreach programme to schools.
How the CAS Team Made a Difference
The programme supports schools, Primary, Secondary and Sixth Form Colleges, with activities for pupils alongside continuing professional development for teachers. This has been achieved through creating opportunities for schools to partake in activities at the university as well as the team working in schools. They have also been invloved in initiatives such as Science X and the Blue Dot Festival in order to reach out to as many different audiences as possible. In order to widen the participation of CS to under represented groups the team have developed specific programmes to promote and engage pupils from different social backgrounds and to target the misrepresentation of females in CS. The team also co-hosted a SEN conference earlier this year to create opportunities for all students to enjoy CS . The conference offered expertise and resources to support teaching CS looking at issues such as gender, ethnicity, socio-conomic status, SEN and pupils with disabilities. 2016/17 saw a significant increase in the share of female undergraduate students in first year from about 17% to over 24%, and these school activities are one of the possible explanations for this development.