Making sure that the computing curriculum is accessible to everyone is an important part of what CAS is all about.
We’ve run several events recently focusing on inclusive computing which have proved to be popular. Our CAS Virtual Showcase event on the Inclusive Classroom was among the most popular and, back in May, CAS Community Outreach Managers Wendy MacLeod hosted a webinar on Inclusive Computing as part of the CAS Inspire programme.
On the panel were three SEND experts: Catherine Elliot, Rory Matthews and Emma Salt.
Catherine is from the Sheffield eLearning Service and has spent the last five years working on ways to make computing accessible for all learners. Rory teaches at a special school in Burgess Hill and supports SEND learners aged 14-19. Emma has been working in SEN for over twenty years and currently works as a SENCO in a specialist independent school in Shrewsbury. She is also the parent of a child with special educational needs. All three panellists are CAS Community leaders and Catherine is a member of the CAS Include working group.
The webinar focused on a variety of issues including: what inclusive computing looks like; general approaches to teaching children with SEND; teaching computing to SEND children, strategies for supporting SEND children and their parents during the lockdown and other opportunities to engage with Computing at School.
Emma explained how to create an inclusive computing environment, emphasising that this was achieved by “making sure all students can access resources no matter their needs and having a wide enough spectrum of resources to be able to scaffold and support all students’ engagement and development.”
During the discussion on teaching computing to SEND pupils, Rory explained the benefits of “using unplugged activities alongside computer-based activities because this is part of using a multisensory/ multimodal approach.”
Catherine recommended accessibility features in Scratch, Sonic Pi and Python IDE Mu and Emma outlined her top tips for supporting SEND children in programming lessons. These were centred around adopting a scaffolded approach where videos and tutorials are used to support learning.
The webinar finished with Catherine explaining; “CAS Include is a working party focused on making computing accessible for all young people regardless of ethnicity, gender, socio-economic background or ability.”
CAS Include has produced two toolkits – one on diversity and one on inclusion and that these contain “advice and activities for teachers to undertake to learn more about unconscious bias and how to support learners with SEND”.
The webinar was extremely popular, with ninety people attending the session and plenty of positive feedback.
Penny tweeted; “Was really informative with many great ideas, thanks…”. Mrs Hodge wrote; “Thanks for an interesting webinar. Reinforced what we already do in our school with multi-sensory approach and quality first teaching”. Miss Song said; “Thank you @Compatsch for hosting a fantastic webinar on Inclusive Computing this morning #CASInspire20.”
Clearly this is an area of computing education which is growing - almost 200 people attended Catherine’s webinar on inclusion, part of the CAS Virtual Showcase programme in June.
CAS Include’s resources are available on the CAS website and can be accessed here.
CAS Include is run by volunteers. To get involved, contact CAS Include via its twitter account: @CASInclude.