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Almost 100 Scottish organisations and individuals sign new digital education charter
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Education & Skills

Almost 100 Scottish organisations and individuals sign new digital education charter 

Almost 100 organisations and influencers in the Scottish education technology sector have signed up to a new national movement launched earlier this month to ‘drive change’ in computing science at schools.

Since the Digital Technology Education Charter – which aims to encourage uptake of computing science among students and help bridge the skills gap – went live on 12 May, 32 organisations and 62 individuals have shown their support for the organisation and its aims.

The impressive list of signatories includes trade body ScotlandIS, Microsoft, and the Scottish Tech Army, as well as University of Glasgow computing science lecturer Dr Matthew Barr and various other experts in the field.

Toni Scullion, a computing science teacher at St.Kentigern’s Academy in West Lothian, founder of DressCode and driving force behind the new operation says the current shortage of computing science teachers and growing digital skills gap in industry is “really scary and really concerning.”

She said: “When it comes to computing science in Scotland, we’ve got so many problems. Lack of teachers, the gender gap, really poor uptake across the country. If we’re not careful we’re going to have an even more serious situation on our hands.

“We’ve got schools across the country that don’t even deliver computing science so we’ve got a lot of problems and that was like sort of all that encompassed was the reason why I started DressCode and lots of other initiatives.”

DressCode is a not-for-profit organisation founded by Scullion that encourages girls into the male-dominated subject. Scullion also created Computing Science Scotland – a network for teachers.

She was inspired to launch the charter after reading former Skyscanner chief operating officer Mark Logan’s Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review, which was published last year.

In his report, Logan, who now teaches computing science at the University of Glasgow, highlighted a number of challenges Scotland faces with regards to the subject at schools.

He also found that 13,000 digital-tech jobs are created each year and that filling them would add £1bn to Scotland’s economy.

Scullion said: “That just gave me an extra boost. I wanted to do so much more. I think his report really shone a light on issues in Scotland at schools, which has been amazing.

“Computer science teachers have been talking about it forever, but to have someone of Mark’s stature really highlight the problems was amazing. And I really wanted to keep that momentum going and bring together computing science teachers and industry because it’s a partnership.”

That was when DressCode started brainstorming and decided it needed to do “something different” because there are “incredible initiatives out there already”.

The organisation chose to launch a charter, because “it marries together computer science teachers with the industry” and “we could actually bring them closer together.”

Though Scullion is delighted by the number of signatories and says it has “been amazing so far”, she still has “big plans and big hopes” to fulfil.

The Digital Technology Education Charter is preparing for its first campaign – ‘choose computing science’ and Scullion is determined “to get every single university and all colleges that deliver computing science in Scotland” signed up.

She added: “It would be amazing to see the Developing Young Workforce in all regions signed up also because they do such good work and it’s not about saying ‘our charter is the solution’, it’s really just trying to get everybody’s initiatives together as a real movement which I think will be so cool if we can pull it off.”

She doesn’t stop there. Scullion wants “every computing science teacher in all schools” and “every organisation in Scotland because it’s so integral to every sector in Scotland” to join the movement.

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