CESI Symposium – Leaving Certificate Computer Science

Maynooth University 


One of the opening speakers was Elizabeth Oldham. Elizabeth inspired the audience with a historical account of CS education in second level from the 1970's. Not only did Elizabeth give a great presentation, but she told it as a story, with nostalgia and words of wisdom which was really enjoyable to listen to. Some of the previous work trying to introduce CS into the second level curriculum I was acutely aware of, like programming as part of the mathematics course in the early 1980's. I was however not aware of its attempt of reintroduction to the junior and leaving certificate almost two decades later.  

The symposium was a great meeting of teachers. One really interesting point that I noted while in the groups (these groups were split to make sure it included, teachers, industry and third-level, the main stakeholders in all of this), was the differentiation in ability of each stakeholder. I really do not mean this in a negative light, more in a surprise, even for me who has been involved in all three areas. The industry was very strong on specific aspects, such as code or languages. This was expected, but the teachers that I encountered, had very varying experience in CS. For example of what I mean, in the first group that I was in (there were three teachers other than me), one teacher was confident in JavaScript, SQL and oracle databases, the other in Scratch and basics of Python and the final teacher had little to no coding experience. Maybe this was by design of CESI, but this is amazing! Also to note, the teacher with no experience just started a postgrad course, to upskill in CS. So I guess my point after all of this is that the teachers are either equipped to start teaching the course at least or are in some way, proactive in upskilling, all towards the new Leaving Certificate Computer Science course. The future is bright!