Making Computer Science career pathways explicit at KS3

Has anyone thought yet about year 9 options evening this year?   I do… frequently, as I know that it is the key event of the year when I can influence the views of students and parents about options at KS4.  During the last few years I used to think we had it covered with a presentation and a video for all classes in the week before Options Evening in March.   Then talks on the evening with research data from the current year 11,  and everything would be sorted.   And to an extent. it worked well with a decent  take up each year for computer science in  year 10.  

However,  last year I was asked to curate a set of  Computing Careers resources for the National Stem Centre –  and nearly a hundred curated links are now available here.  Seeing the range and calibre of resources out “there” got me thinking that  a computing department should be explicit about the potential career pathways available, and the strategic approach should be to make these explicit throughout Year 9, and probably even earlier.  

A recent post from *Dave Gibbs “Why waste years? Let’s inspire careers!” makes the point that “Computing for 11-14 year olds is important in its own right” but also that it is needed “to support recruitment to 14-16 qualifications for all learners…”.

In addition, we also have access to first rate KS3 resources from the NCCE and the RPF.  Here is our outline KS3 scheme of learning.

So, as a department, we set about embedding careers into Year 9, starting with 2 lessons to make explicit the following career pathways:

  • Software engineer
  • Cyber security analyst
  • Machine learning engineer (/Artificial Intelligence)
  • Data Scientist
  • Web Designer
  • Computer Games Developer
  • Network Engineer
  • and Teacher!

We then pick out various units through the year to exemplify the knowledge, skills and understanding involved with each. Our unit 1 resources are here and we will build them up over the coming year, based on what worked well last year, plus integrating NCCE resources such as data analysis – especially the rollercoaster database!

** 27/9/20 – I have just added a two lesson Y8 version with a list of extension videos:

*“Why waste years? Let’s inspire careers!” Dave Gibbs 21 September 2020