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CAS National Survey 2016
02 Feb 2016


During the month of February we are running a national survey of all CAS members to help us understand what you find useful about CAS and what you value in terms of professional development activities for Computing.

Link to complete survey

Please do fill this in as it really helps us. The survey will run throughout February ending on the 1st March. There will be a weekly prize draw at the end of each week with a £25 Amazon gift voucher.

The survey should take around 10 minutes to complete and there are some questions for all and some just for teachers. This is an annual national survey and the report on last year’s survey can be found here.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

University Partners Double Reach of CAS Network of Teaching Excellence
22 Jan 2016


The Network of Teaching Excellence in Computer Science (NoE) is a national community of professional practice. This community is a partnership between schools, universities, IT employers and professional bodies. It is run by the Computing At School group (CAS), which itself if part of BCS. Thanks to funding from the Department for Education (DfE) the NoE now has ten university partners coordinating regional activity for the NoE.

Thanks to these universities:

  • Reach: The NoE has doubled the level of activity during the 2015 autumn term compared to the same period last year (see Section 9 of the latest network progress report, note this excludes any CPD that university NoE regional centres were already providing outside of the NoE).
  • Impact:Teachers who receive CPD from the NoE report their confidence in teaching computing has increased on average by 88% (see Section 7 of the DfE report).

Since the start of the NoE in the autumn of 2012 there have been a total of 56,676 instances of CPD provided to teachers, achieved with 15,843.6 hours of contact time. These have been provided by CAS Master Teachers, CAS university partners, CAS Hubs and CAS conferences. CPD has been provided through formal training events, mentoring, coaching, peer observation of practice, and peer partnering with development of resources and assessment.

These are extremely encouraging results, but they should be taken in the context of a Network that does not have anything like the capacity to reach all schools, and the huge gap that still remains in expertise across the computing teaching workforce in general. Plus which there is a huge shortfall in the number of computing teachers, which are not being replenished at a fast enough rate.


CAS at BETT 2016
20 Jan 2016


BETT 2016

We’re at BETT this year! Come and meet Simon Humphreys, National Coordinator and the rest of the team each day on Stand C300. Find out what’s going on in your area.

"Switched On" Spring 2016
07 Jan 2016


The 2016 spring term issue of the CAS newsletter is now out!


Forged in the crucible of Maths, Computer Science can help make concrete the thinking skills required for success. A special feature explores ways in which Computing can make Maths real and help improve performance. It makes a case for the role our subject can play in developing a fertile soil for sustained educational growth. Do please share it with headteachers.

Other major features on the EYFS and state diagrams plus the usual raft of news, contributions, ideas and tips from CAS members.

Note: Its best to view the electronic copy as double page spreads (with separate front cover)

Many thanks to the editorial team who took time to proof read during the busy Christmas period.

Impact of the CAS Network of Excellence
09 Dec 2015


CAS, through BCS, has received funding support to run a professional development project: “The Network of Teaching Excellence in Computer Science”, or NoE. The NoE builds on the grass roots ethos which is central to Computing At School – inspiring, leading, training, and supporting an active community of practice. It recognises the importance of local, face-to-face, peer-to-peer delivery, professional relationships and building the confidence of the people involved.

The NoE brings together many of the community-building strands of CAS to maximise their impact and quality. It aims to inspire, motivate and support teachers by building a high-quality, low-cost, sustainable CPD infrastructure that nurtures long-term collaboration between teachers, schools, and universities.

In July 2015 an independent evaluation of the NoE was carried out by the Centre for Education and Inclusion Research at Sheffield Hallam. They reported:

CAS is making a significant difference to the implementation of the new computing curriculum.

A variety of organisations are working together to provide a coordinated national approach that supports local need. These include CAS Regional Centres, CAS Master Teachers, CAS Hubs, CAS University Partners and CAS Lead Schools.

In days of online delivery and time poverty, we maintain that professional development is a very human and not mechanical process, based on professional relationships and confidence levels of the people involved. So the support provided by the NoE is predicated on that support being:

  • Local
  • Face to face
  • Peer led

Over the period from April 2015 to November 2015 feedback has been gathered from all teachers supported through NoE activities both immediately after and ten weeks after receiving support.

Teachers are asked about their own base confidence level (1-10) at the beginning of CPD and again at the end. The mean base confidence increased teacher by 88%.

Over 95% emphasise have stated that local, face to face, professional development led by an experienced teacher is either important or very important to them.

It is accepted that perhaps the respondents form a self-selecting group who attended a teacher led face to face session in their locality but it is also taken as an indication, with such strong recommendation, of the need the NoE is meeting.

Key to assessing the NoE is determining the impact the professional development is having on knowledge, practice, the school itself and most importantly the learners.

  • Knowledge: 65% report their subject knowledge or understanding had improved + Practice: 47% of teachers have subsequently used some of the ideas in the course in their teaching.
  • Organisation: 82% of teachers return to their school and share what they have learned with colleagues
  • 25% of teachers reported that the training had enabled them to offer different classroom activities, whilst 50% stated that improved student learning had taken place. 25% said that the students were more motivated.

This demonstrates the support through the NoE directly impacts on student learning in the classroom, and will have a lasting impact well beyond the period over which the CPD is provided.

Find your nearest CAS Master Teacher or CAS Hub

Computational Thinking - A guide for teachers
26 Nov 2015


Several CAS members have been working hard for some time on this newly published document discussing computational thinking for both primary and secondary schools.

This guide aims to help develop a shared understanding of the teaching of computational thinking in schools. It presents a conceptual framework of computational thinking, describes pedagogic approaches for teaching and offers guides for assessment. It is complementary to the two CAS guides published in November 2013 (Primary) and June 2014 (Secondary) in supporting the implementation of the new National Curriculum and embraces the CAS Barefoot and CAS QuickStart Computing descriptions of computational thinking. Computational thinking lies at the heart of the computing curriculum but it also supports learning and thinking in other areas of the curriculum.

Our collective thanks to Dr John Woollard and his team for writing this guide and to Steve Connolly, for the support at Hodder Education with the publication

CAS Scotland Annual Conference 2015
14 Oct 2015


CAS Scotland Annual Conference

Saturday 7th November 2015

University of Dundee

For the first time the CAS Scotland conference will have seminars, workshops and discussions that cover all levels of Computing education from Primary through Secondary and on into Further and Higher Education. So whether you’re a lecturer, teacher or industry member with a strong interest in education there will be a wealth of interesting sessions just for you at Scotland’s largest CS Education focused conference.

Our programme includes a wide diversity of topics including the latest developments in Eye Tracking research, Biometrics in Scratch, Minecraft, the BBC micro:bit, Cyber Security and even some Homesick Aliens so it’s an event you won’t want to miss!

Sign up and register for the conference here

CAS Scotland Annual Conference

Saturday 7th November 2015 University of Dundee

What to EXPECT

For the first time the CAS Scotland conference will have seminars, workshops and discussions that cover all levels of Computing education from Primary through Secondary and on into Further and Higher Education. So whether you’re a lecturer, teacher or industry member with a strong interest in education there will be a wealth of interesting sessions just for you at Scotland’s largest CS Education focused conference.

Our programme includes a wide diversity of topics including the latest developments in Eye Tracking research, Biometrics in Scratch, Minecraft, the BBC micro:bit, Cyber Security and even some Homesick Aliens so it’s an event you won’t want to miss!

Format of THE DAY

This year the conference is organised into

  • a short opening talk with several optional keynotes during the day.
  • a range of hands on practical workshops available throughout the day including a chance to work with e-Textiles, get a hands on with the latest version of Greenfoot and many others.
  • a Broad General Education track with sessions on teaching Computing to Primary and lower Secondary pupils.
  • a Senior phase track with sessions useful for anyone teaching National 4 to Advanced Higher Computing Science and equivalent NPA’s.
  • a Vocational and Industry track with sessions focused around the connection between Computing education in HE and FE and work within the ICT industry.
  • a Research and Academic track with sessions sharing a range of recent CS Education findings as well how to get involved or make use of research in your own teaching.
  • a drop-in area where you can find out about extra-curricular opportunities that Coder Dojo, Lambda Jam, Code Club and others can provide.
  • an exhibition space where you can find out from various providers about Computing resources and equipment.

Conference TIMES

Registration and breakfast will be from 8.30am till 9.30am and the event will close at 5pm when we hope you will stay for a CAS Scotland general meeting (as well as drinks and nibbles!)


Tickets for students cost £10, practising educators cost £30 and for industry and national and local government £60 which includes a light breakfast, teas and coffees, lunch, some goodies and a wealth of hands-on-workshops, discussions and seminars throughout the day.

We will also have a number of travel and accommodation bursaries of up to £150 available for practising educators in more remote parts of Scotland to enable them to attend.

Animation 16 is live!
22 Sep 2015


Animation16 - the 9th Annual UK Schools Computer Animation Competition run by the School of Computer Science at The University of Manchester, has launched!

The competition is open to all UK school students aged 7-19.

The Awards Ceremony will be at the National Media Museum in Bradford on 12 July 2016.

The competition is open now, for teacher registration, at

Teacher registration is FREE and carries no obligation to submit any entries. All registered teachers will receive FREE colour A2-sized Animation16 posters for their school, sent out in early-October.

To get your free posters – while stocks last! – register at the website or log in using your existing credentials.

Entrants can create their animations (time limit: 1 minute) using any of the following programs: Scratch, Adobe Flash, Alice, Blender, Maya, 3DS Max, Muvizu, Synfig Studio, Serif Draw Plus, KoolMoves, or SWiSH Max4

3DS Max and Maya are free from Autodesk to all Schools.

There are great prizes for the winners, and trophies for schools. Winners will be announced in May 2016.

Last year’s Animation15 competition was bigger than ever, with over 820 entries from 127 schools across the UK, from 1,057 students. We awarded prizes to 42 students (working as individuals, or in groups, max size 4) from 26 schools. You can see all the winning entries on our Youtube channel

Key dates

  • 18 March 2016: Deadline for submitting entries
  • 12 July 2016: Awards Day at the National Media Museum

Key contacts

Animation16 is funded by Electronic Arts, Autodesk, and Microsoft, in association with Computing At School and cs4fn.

Interested in CAS Hubs in the Staffordshire area?
21 Sep 2015


Are you a CAS member in the Staffordshire area?

I am starting to think of possible CAS hubs to run this year. I have the full support of the School of Computing at Staffordshire University and we would like to put on some regular free CPD for schools in the area. We could feasibly run a CAS hub every half term but at the very least we want to put on an event ever term. It will all come down to take up. In the first instance, we want to know what you would like us to cover and in the second instance, when the best time, day etc is for you.

The Hubs usually run at the Stafford or Stoke campuses of Staffordshire University. Which is best for you? Is it feasible to run one from your school?

If this free CPD support would be something you are interested in, please contact me on and I I’ll add you to the mailing list.

Paul Maddock CAS Hub Leader for Staffordshire and Award Leader PGCE Computer Science at Staffordshire University

Announcing the CAS Regional Centres
15 Sep 2015


The CAS community has grown, and is still growing, by approximately 400 people every month. This is just wonderful! Many community members take on a role leading and serving their local community either through running a hub or running training courses in their role as a CAS Master Teacher or University Partner. Each individual plays a vital role in ensuring that the subject of Computing becomes firmly established in all Primary and Secondary schools across the country. By sharing their own understanding and experience of Computing with other teachers, at both Primary and Secondary level, they are taking the lead in helping build a confident, enthusiastic and effective community of Computing and Computer Science teachers across the whole of England.

Managing, overseeing and communicating such activity to all members is becoming something of a challenge! To assist in this, CAS are establishing ten university-based CAS Regional Centres (CRCs), funded by the DfE. This will further extend the support available to Master Teachers and other CAS champions, to help them engage with and support other teachers in their area. As such, the role of the new CRCs is very much about nurturing and supporting communities of practice, at the heart of which lie the CAS Master Teachers and our local hubs.

The regional centres are:

  • CAS North East (Newcastle University)
  • CAS South West (Plymouth University)
  • CAS South East (University of Southampton)
  • CAS East of England (University of Hertfordshire)
  • CAS London (King’s College/Queen Mary University of London)
  • CAS East Midlands (Nottingham Trent University)
  • CAS West Midlands (Birmingham City University)
  • CAS North West - Manchester (University of Manchester)
  • CAS North West - Lancaster (Lancaster University)
  • CAS Yorkshire and the Humber (University of York)

Each university will be working closely with the Master Teachers in their area, to help them to support local teachers and schools and build regional communities of practice through activities such as regional conferences.

The CRCs will be sharing their plans in your region very soon. In the meantime, if you have any queries about the changes please contact; and if you or any colleagues need support in teaching Computing, please do contact your local Master Teacher and check up on the activity of your local hub.

New CAS website for Primary Teachers
07 Sep 2015


Through the generous support of Morgan Stanley CAS have developed a new website for primary school teachers. is designed to help all primary teachers, beginner and specialist alike, get 'up to speed' with the new curriculum.

It includes:

Each of the primary resources has been specially selected from those contributed by CAS members as a community resource or from those developed through CAS projects e.g. CAS Barefoot Computing.

A new year and fresh (re)start?
03 Sep 2015


Term has started for most if not all primary and secondary teachers by now so I hope I’m not too late in wishing everyone every success for the coming term! There was no doubt that last year was hard with the introduction of the new programme of study for Computing. Exciting too, I hope!

A very quick, short-fire, round up of some CAS activity happening right now …

  • we’re launching 10 new CAS Regional Centres (CRC) with support from DfE as part of the Network of Excellence programme. I will publish a full news item about this very soon!
  • the public website is being updated (as I type). This has been in a forlorn state for some time now and I’m really pleased with how the new site is coming on …
  • lead schools will be getting their audit next week, so do look out for that :)
  • the new register of CAS Master Teachers will go live very shortly
  • we’ve been working with Morgan Stanley on a resource site for primary school teachers. Do take a look at Teach Primary Computing
  • we’re fast approaching 20,000 members!!
  • we’re launching a twitter chat #CASChat this term i.e. very soon
  • the BCS Certificate is going from strength to strength with the addition of new course related material and support from our friends at Codio
  • With funding from Google we are hard at work on producing high quality training packs for the CAS Master Teachers to deliver in your local area. The first packs will be trialed over the next few weeks. This is a really exciting project and will give much needed support and coherence to the training provided by Master Teachers and others
  • Also, with Google funding, we are producing a series of videos to capture case studies of good practice in schools, CPD material, subject knowledge videos etc. which will build into a really valuable resource over the year
  • Phew! What else ….? Ah yes, we’re working closely with colleagues in Korea, Malaysia and other European countries spreading the word about CAS, the importance of computing and how the particular ethos of CAS and professional generosity can be shared and replicated elsewhere

I know I’ll have forgotten something really, really important … so please forgive me there.

On a personal note one of my highlights last year was hearing the three teachers who presented first at the CAS Conference in Birmingham. Their brief was to speak for 10 mins or so on “It’s only been a year but …”. It was truly inspiring because they were telling us how it had been for them.

Sharing such stories is transformative and hugely powerful. It can be daunting to share our stories in this forum I know and it saddens me to read posts where people are prefacing their view with “Don’t shoot me down …”. Your “Tales from the classroom” are always inspiring, motivating and challenging - please keep them coming and if anyone “shoots at you” please let me know ;).

So, take deep breath, and let us know how it is going … go on!


Launch of CAS London!
23 Jul 2015


A lively networking-focused meeting was held to officially launch the Computing At School Regional Centre for London (CAS London)on Friday July 10th. CAS London will be coordinated by King’s College London and Queen Mary University of London in 2015-2016.

For the last two years, the Department for Education (DfE) have funded CAS to develop the Network of Teaching Excellence in Computer Science; through this CAS have recruited nearly 400 CAS Master Teachers to train and support their peers in preparing to deliver the new Computing curriculum. With renewed funding from the DfE, the Network of Excellence project is now going to be led regionally by 10 university partners, with KCL and QMUL taking responsibility for the London region.

The role of CAS London will be to support existing CAS Master Teachers, CAS Hub Leaders and CAS Lead Schools whilst growing the reach of Computing At School across London. The launch meeting consisted of a drinks reception followed by a series of short presentations. The attendees included CAS Master Teachers, CAS Hub Leaders, other CAS university partners from around London, and also representatives from a range of other agencies including London Grid for Learning (LGfL), the Greater London Authority (GLA), numerous Borough representatives and the BBC. It was a wide-reaching event that had a real buzz and enthusiasm. 19 out of 32 boroughs in London were represented.

During the drinks reception, participants were encouraged to add their comments to a range of displays on different topics - identifying what was going well (and not so well) regarding the Computing curriculum in primary and secondary education. Professor Paul Curzon from QMUL entertained attendees with a range of computer-science related magic tricks; a range of informational displays and resources were also provided to give attendees lots to look at and do.

Simon Humphreys introduced the presentation section of the meeting with a reminder of the aims and ethos of CAS ,explaining that a significant role of the CRC’s would be to nurture and support the education computing Communities of Practice, at the heart of which lie the CAS Master Teachers. This was followed by 18 presentations by some of those attending who had volunteered to share their activity in this space. They addressed the themes: ‘What is working well?’; ‘What is needed?’ and ‘What can I offer?’. Jane Waite and Trevor Bragg, who organised the event, closed with a presentation on what CAS London could offer and a willingness to work together with all other agencies involved with Computing in schools, as well as supporting the CAS Master Teachers.

We were also grateful to the King’s PGCE students for helping to set up displays, register attendees and take photographs of the event.

Computational Thinking for Educators
13 Jul 2015


How can you map the entire human DNA sequence? Is it really possible that William Shakespeare wrote all of the plays that bear his name? Can one design a computer program that creates novel music compositions?

Answering these questions requires computational thinking, a way of problem solving that educators around the world are using across disciplines. Whether you teach computer science, humanities, math, or science, computational thinking can be a powerful addition to your classroom activities. By integrating these skills into all subject areas, you can help better prepare your students to contribute new solutions to seemingly impossible problems.

Our new online course, Computational Thinking for Educators, is free and intended for anyone working with students between the ages of 13 and 18, who is interested in enhancing their teaching with creative thinking and problem solving. We’ll demonstrate how bringing computational thinking into your classroom simply enhances what you already do, enriching your lessons and student exploration, even if you don’t have access to technology. Another benefit to computational thinking is that it can help boost students’ confidence in dealing with ambiguous, complex, or open-ended problems. We believe all students should learn computational thinking, regardless of subject or age. You’ll also have the opportunity to complete a final project and earn a Google certificate. By integrating computational thinking skills into your discipline, you can help your students become technology creators and solve big problems using creativity!

Sound interesting? Check out our blog post and register now to join us and other educators around the world as we take on Computational Thinking for Educators. This course will run from July 15 - September 30, 2015.

BBC micro:bit launched!
14 Jul 2015


The BBC and partners today unveiled the BBC micro:bit – a pocket-sized, codeable computer that allows children to get creative with technology. In the BBC’s most ambitious education initiative for 30 years, up to 1 million devices will be given to every 11 or 12 year old child in year 7 or equivalent across the UK, for free.

Registration URL has gone live (July 14th 2015):

In the 1980s, the BBC Micro introduced many children to computing for the first time. Part of the BBC’s 2015 Make it Digital initiative, the BBC micro:bit builds on the legacy of the Micro for the digital age, and aims to inspire young people to get creative with digital; develop core skills in science, technology and engineering; and unleash a new generation of digital makers, inventors and pioneers.

The UK currently faces a critical skills shortage in the technology sector, and the BBC and our partners aim to help change that.

Tony Hall, Director-General of the BBC says:

"Just as the BBC Micro introduced millions to personal computers 30 years ago, the BBC micro:bit can help equip a new generation with the digital skills they need to find jobs and help grow the UK economy. It's the unique role of the BBC that allows us to bring together an unprecedented partnership to deliver such an ambitious project."


The BBC micro:bit is a pocket-sized computer that you can code, customise and control to bring your digital ideas, games and apps to life. It measures 4cm by 5cm, will be available in a range of colours, and is designed to be fun and easy to use. Something simple can be coded in seconds – like lighting up its LEDs or displaying a pattern – with no prior knowledge of computing. All that’s needed is imagination and creativity.

The BBC micro:bit also connects to other devices, sensors, kits and objects, and is a great companion to Arduino, Galileo, Kano, littleBits and Raspberry Pi, acting as a spring-board to more complex learning.

Key features include:

  •     25 red LEDs to light up, flash messages, create games and invent digital stories
  •     Two programmable buttons activated when pressed. Use the micro:bit as a games controller. Pause or skip songs on a playlist.
  •     On-board motion detector or 'accelerometer' that can detect movement and tell other devices you’re on the go. Featured actions include shake, tilt and freefall. Turn the micro:bit into a spirit level. Light it up when something is moved. Use it for motion-activated games.
  •     A built-in compass or 'magnetometer' to sense which direction you’re facing, your movement in degrees, and where you are. Includes an in-built magnet, and can sense certain types of metal.
  •     Bluetooth Smart Technology to connect to the internet and interact with the world around you. Connect the micro:bit to other micro:bits, devices, kits, phones, tablets, cameras and everyday objects all around. Share creations or join forces to create multi-micro:bit masterpieces. Take a selfie. Pause a DVD or control your playlist. 
  •     Five Input and Output (I/O) rings to connect the micro:bit to devices or sensors using crocodile clips or 4mm banana plugs. Use the micro:bit to send commands to and from the rings, to power devices like robots and motors.

Each element of the BBC micro:bit is completely programmable via easy-to-use software on a dedicated website (available later in the summer at that can be accessed from a PC, tablet or mobile. Your personal area on the website will allow you to save and test your creations in a simulator before they are transferred to your micro:bit, and the available tools scale to be as complex as your ideas, imagination and skills require.

Sinead Rocks, Head of BBC Learning, says:

“We happily give children paint brushes when they’re young, with no experience - it should be exactly the same with technology. The BBC micro:bit is all about young people learning to express themselves digitally, and it’s their device to own. It’s our most ambitious education initiative for 30 years. And as the micro:bit is able to connect to everything from mobile phones to plant pots and Raspberry Pis, this could be for the internet-of-things what the BBC Micro was to the British gaming industry.”


The micro:bit was first conceived by BBC Learning in 2012, and initially developed together with the BBC’s award-winning R&D department. The scale and scope of this unique initiative has only been made possible by an unprecedented collaboration between 29 international organisations, pioneering start-ups and transformative education organisations.

The BBC is the overall editorial and project lead for the micro:bit, coordinating the partnership, micro:bit development and delivery, learning resources and on-air and online inspiration for teachers, schools and makers across the UK.

Fundamental to the success of the BBC micro:bit, the BBC and partners will be working closely with teachers, educators and schools over the summer to ensure that resources, information and support are available in advance of micro:bit distribution this autumn, supporting the curriculum. BBC Learning will also provide resources including Live Lessons, getting started videos, projects and tutorials.

The BBC micro:bit will start to arrive in schools in late October, giving children a chance to settle into new schools, and teachers the opportunity to build this into lesson plans for the rest of the academic year.

The BBC micro:bit initiative aims to make a huge impact in 2015 with the BBC and its partners committed providing up to 1 million micro:bits before the end of the year. And it won’t stop there. The technical specifications for the device will be open-sourced, and the partnership plans to collectively develop a not-for-profit company to oversee and drive the micro:bit legacy. This will enable additional micro:bits to be made commercially available in the UK and internationally through various outlets in late 2015.

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