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Digital Schoolhouse is 'Back 2 School' with a bang!

Author: Laura.Martin

This week Digital Schoolhouse (DSH) kickstarted the new academic year with a bang at the Ukie offices in Central London.

‘Back 2 School’ with Digital Schoolhouse celebrated the announcement of new sponsors SEGA and Warwickshire County Council, alongside a panel discussion tackling how the creative industries and education sectors could address the digital skills gap together. Following the ‘grown-up’ panel chaired by Ed Dorrell (Head of Content, Tes), Key Stage 3 pupils were also brought on stage to discuss their perspective on the subject.

Led by two of our DSH Lead Teachers, Tony Gilbert (New College Swindon) and Estelle Ashman (Gildredge House), the audience were also taken back to the classroom for a taster of what our teachers deliver to pupils. “You learn what’s behind the making… the tiniest things make such a big difference” – Amelia Lambert, Year 9 pupil at Townley Grammar, speaking about offline DSH activities. By allowing attendees to participate in Digital Schoolhouse workshops, they understand exactly how we put Creative Computing into practice.

In attendance were representatives across sectors, including PlayStation®, Computing at School, Gfinity, Department for Education and DCMS, who all have a stake in helping to shape the next generation’s digital future. This demonstrates what Digital Schoolhouse does best – bringing people together. The event certainly proved to be a step in the right direction and helping the programme to realise it’s vision. Here’s what the panel had to say:

Monica Fogarty, Joint Managing Director at Warwickshire County Council, who’s region is home to gaming cluster ‘Silicon Spa’ said “Children aren't being challenged or stimulated enough with the curriculum. This needs to change”. Peter Oliver, Head of PR at SEGA stated that “working together is key - more games sectors should lend expertise to education through DSH to help bridge skills gap”.

However, pedagogy is just as important as subject content: "We need sustained CPD courses for teachers" – Dr Mary Webb, Reader in IT and Education at King’s College London. Digital Schoolhouse recognises the importance of CPD and training events, which is incorporated into Lead Teacher benefits throughout the year.

The pupil panel, featuring Year 9 pupils from Gildredge House and Year 8 pupils from Townley Grammar, reinforced the need for industry and schools to work together to increase their engagement in Computer Science: "If we had better links with industry it would encourage us to study computer science to greater levels".

Nevita Pandya, Deputy Headteacher at Townley Grammar explained that “Making partnerships directly with industry, we found really hard”. “We need to be better at joining the dots” says Luke. Digital Schoolhouse aims to increase the talent pipeline in the long-term by raising GCSE and A-Level numbers, but how do we do this?

Our pupil panellist stated “Computing should be taught earlier - learning at secondary, there is not enough time to get interested in it before choosing GCSE options”. Digital Schoolhouse engages primary pupils to eradicate this problem, by presenting them with the opportunity they deserve to acquire the skills they need for a career in a digital age. Alarmingly, one pupil stated that “none of us really want to do it after GCSE”. So although “There's a place for everyone in games” - Luke, it seems that industry and education can still do more. Find out how you can get involved to inspire the next generation here.

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