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CSA story: Jonathan O’Donnell from the Harris Federation

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Over the next few months, we will be sharing stories of graduates from our Computer Science Accelerator (CSA) Programme to learn how they got on with the certificate and how it helped them.

We are starting with Jonathan O’Donnell from the Harris Federation. Jonathan has been teaching IT and computing for over 10 years. At the Harris Federation, Jonathan oversees the provision of computer science from the curriculum, teaching and learning, and research and outcomes. He also leads computer science teacher training at Harris Initial Teacher Education (HITE) and for early career teachers (ECTs).

What made you decide to teach computing?

I have always been passionate about computing from an early age, stemming from my love of video games, which led me to graduate from University studying Multimedia Technology and Design. Whilst I loved programming and at that time was a very successful free-lance programmer, I did not have a great sense of purpose or achievement. I always found great pleasure in helping fellow programmers and mentoring others which is why I decided to study for a PGCE in IT and have never looked back.

Can you explain how the Harris Federation supports teachers with Teach Computing?

The Federation promotes the use of the Teach Computing curriculum and for our schools to adapt the curriculum and resources provided to be suitable for the context of each individual school. The sequencing of the Teach Computing curriculum, detailed in the curriculum map and learning graphs, ensures not only the computing curriculum is fully covered but it is delivered most effectively. We also promote all teachers of IT and computer science to study the CSA and after completion enrol on the Secondary Computing Programme which provides our teachers with high-quality CPD that enhances their subject knowledge, improves teacher delivery, and inspires them to try new teaching techniques or explore new topics and to meet fellow computing colleagues.  

How has the certificate in GCSE Computer Science subject knowledge helped teachers involved in the Harris Federation?

The course offers a wide range of CPD that caters to teachers of all abilities and experience, we promote this course to all teachers of computing, from trainees to qualified computing specialists and non-specialists. The training is accessible and led by outstanding facilitators. The sense of pride and achievement teachers get when they pass has a huge impact on their confidence in teaching computing.

Was there a particular course or activity which stood out to you?

I particularly enjoyed the Object-oriented programming in Python: create your own adventure game course. The way the training taught a particularly challenging topic by coding a fun game is something I have embedded into my own teaching practice.

How has completing the certificate benefited teachers?

It has improved all teachers' subject knowledge relevant to that which they teach allowing them to deliver high-quality computing lessons. It provides teachers with confidence in a subject that has a reputation for being difficult. The certificate models best practice which is passed onto the students giving them more engaging and impactful lessons.  

What would you say to people who are teaching another subject who don't know if the CSA is right for them?

The CSA is accessible with a wide range of topics that not only will benefit delivering computing but will also have great crossover with many other subjects. The CSA will create a bespoke pathway for their needs and is accessible from courses that can be studied at any time online to remote or face-to-face courses with plenty of options available.

What are you excited about that's coming up this term?

Most definitely the CSA celebration event, I look forward to attending the event in London meeting fellow passionate computing educators and celebrating their achievement and commitment to professional development.

Thanks, Jonathan!

If you are interested in learning more about our Computer Science Accelerator Programme, you can find all the details you need on the CS Accelerator webpage.