Making Computer Science career pathways explicit at KS3 – and boosting numbers at KS4

This is a Year 9 curriculum with a unique introductory careers unit “wrapping” around units from the NCCE and PGOnline. I am doing several talks in 2020 with Abbie Smy (Stem Ambassador Engagement Officer) and sharing the resources with colleagues – see here for details.

These are a selection of Year 9 posters showing seven Computer Science career pathways

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 it worked OK, with a decent take up each year for Computer Science in Year 10.  

And a few years ago 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…”.

The introductory unit highlights that the majority of emerging jobs in the next 5 years are to do with computing. It then goes through seven of the featured career pathways, with interesting video clips and activities, with students then researching and creating posters of the ones they find most interesting. We then give feedback on the posters and put them on the wall.

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, I have set out this year (2021-22) to embed careers into Year 9, starting with introductory lessons to make explicit the following career pathways:

  • Software Developer
  • 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.

9_1 Computing Careers.

Bebras competition.

9_2 Software Engineer NCCE Y9 Python Half a term seeing prowess with Python s(et up on or 

Term 2:
9_3 Artificial Intelligence x6 leading up to options eve for inspiration.  Mixture of PGOnline Unit then 3 lessons buggies (include sensors)

9_4 Data Scientist (x5? L1 used in intro – adjust depending on )

Term 3:
9_5 Cybersecurity – Networks x2 Hardware / then Cybersecurity (inc L5 Risks, Defence applied to school network)
Y9 Exam?
9_6 Games developer x6 NCC Mobile App Development 

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

***29/6/21 Further development for teaching 21-22.

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