Overview of the CAS Network of Excellence
CAS is making a significant difference to the implementation of the new computing curriculum.
(CEIR, Sheffield Hallam)
The Network of Excellence (NoE) is part of the Computing At School group (CAS). It was first established in 2012 to enable teachers in England to become confident, effective and enthusiastic teachers of computing, and to develop and articulate a vision for the subject of computing at the national level.
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 is both a network of professionals working together and a wide-reaching programme of professional development. It recognises the importance of local, face-to-face, peer-to-peer delivery, professional relationships and building the confidence of the people involved.
This approach is school-led and responsive to local needs. It 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.
The NoE is now at the heart of government strategy to ensure all students have the digital skills required for the UK to prosper in the 21st century. Government funding, provided through the DfE, helps grow the NoE through the recruitment and training of CAS Master Teachers and provides them with a localised support infrastructure through part-funding of 10 CAS Regional Centres based in universities.
The DfE has tasked the NoE to meet 4 key objectives by March 2018. These are to:
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.
The key individuals within these organisations (the “CAS Champions”) support the NoE by:
Introduced in September 2015 the CAS Regional Centres (CRC), are based in some of our leading universities, sit at the heart of the CAS model for developing local communities of practice.
CAS Master Teachers are the NoE’s “Practitioner Champions” – experienced, high-performing classroom teachers with a passion for the subject; enthusiasm, energy, and a desire to support others.
CAS Master Teachers:
They are part of the local community of practice and will work alongside their CAS Regional Centres and the local hubs to support teachers of computing in their local area, enable their professional development, and support curriculum change. Specifically:
It is expected that CAS Master Teachers will (with the support of their Head Teacher) spend approximately three hours each week fulfilling their role in a way that supports their own personal professional development and benefits their own school.
Schools are encouraged to join the NoE either as:
Registered schools acknowledge through membership a public commitment to the teaching and learning of Computer Science. Lead schools take a particular lead for Computing education through their curriculum and extra-curricular engagement with the subject and commit to take a lead for the subject in their local area by “adopting” at least one other school and working with them to enhance the status of Computing in those schools.
University faculty (both Computer Science and Education departments) are central to the success of the Network. There is a need for such institutions to help teachers in schools nourish the discipline through both subject knowledge and pedagogical knowledge development.
All University Partners are encouraged to forge links with the primary and secondary schools in their area, find out what they need, work with their nearest CAS Regional Centre and CAS Master Teachers to design and deliver courses, find ways of utilising undergraduates or post-graduates to support both curricular and extra-curricular activities with the schools or just be at the end of a friendly email stream to help answer questions from teachers.
From feedback following Master Teacher training we see the impact the training received is having both on their practice and their pupils. A 33% increase in teacher confidence as a direct result of Master Teacher training and 98% reporting that courses they have attended would have a direct impact on their practice is hugely encouraging. Those attending these courses appreciate that they are face to face, local and led by credible, well informed colleagues.
In May 2015 The Centre for Education and Inclusion Research at Sheffield Hallam University completed an independent evaluation into the NoE to:
There are several different ways that schools, teachers, universities and academics can contribute to the Network of Excellence. By doing so you will be joining a vibrant community of professionals who are committing to support each other.
Each quarter CAS are required to submit a report to the DfE. These can be found here
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