Workforce woes hit national computing centre’s CPD recruitment

The £84 million government-funded centre was rated 'requires improvement' for a CPD KPI

The £84 million government-funded centre was rated 'requires improvement' for a CPD KPI


The national computing centre has fallen behind on its target to provide CPD under a multi-million government contract because teachers cannot find the time to leave the classroom amid staff shortages.

Data published last week show the National Centre for Computing Education was rated ‘requires improvement’ for the number of teachers completing five hours of continued professional development to boost expertise in the subject.

The data, covering October to December 2023, said targets “increased significantly this quarter but there has not been a corresponding uplift in teachers completing five hours of CPD.”

“This is mainly due to ongoing challenges with teacher capacity and classroom release,” it added. 

The government publication adds that “as a result there has been a preference for attending shorter courses, which require multiple engagements over the year for a teacher to reach trained”.

While computing hubs are scheduling shorter courses over the year, the Department for Education said it was “looking at reshaping” the key performance indicator to “reflect the inability of teachers to attend CPD during school hours”.

In his 2017 budget, then-chancellor Phillip Hammond pledged £84 million for a centre to upskill 8,000 existing computer science secondary school teachers. 

STEM Learning then got another £20 million contract in 2022 to run the centre until August next year.

ASCL chief urges DfE to ‘get a grip’

The NCCE operates nationally through a network of school-led computing hubs, which support schools and colleges “to provide a high-quality computing education to all young people”.

Pepe Di’Iasio, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Rather than fiddling with KPIs, the Department for Education needs to get a grip with what is causing the problem in the first place.

Pepe Di’Iasio
Pepe DiIasio

“This is clearly another sign that schools are struggling with teacher shortages and workload and that people simply do not have enough time for these courses.

“CPD opportunities are hugely important – but so is having teachers in front of classes. It shouldn’t be a Hobson’s choice, but that’s where we are at the moment.”

The government’s workload reduction taskforce is working on a set of proposals to help ministers meet their pledge to cut five hours from the working week of school staff.

These are due to be published this “spring”. 

Meanwhile a promised recruitment and retention strategy update is still yet to surface.

A STEM Learning spokesperson said they “recognise the challenges with teacher capacity and classroom release, and have worked with the computing hubs to ensure teachers are able to engage with CPD – this includes shorter courses with more engagements over the year to suit teacher timetables.” 

 A spokesperson for the DfE added they “recognise the importance of (CPD) for teachers which is why computing hubs are exploring new ways to ensure teachers are able to get the most out of them. 

“This includes shorter courses with more engagements over the year to suit teacher timetables and ensure more teachers reach ‘trained’ within the academic year.”

It said the NCCE contract “relates primarily to the delivery of subject specific continuous professional development, amongst other initiatives to support computing teachers”.

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