September 2013 Webletter

Notes from the Chair

Welcome to the third Webletter from the CPHC Committee. This has been created in response to requests from Members for more information on the activities of the Committee during the year, rather than just the updates that are provided annually at Conference.

The Committee has met twice since the annual conference, in May and in July. A good part of the July meeting was spent in reflection on the role of CPHC and the value CPHC delivers to members and the wider public, in-line with the stated charitable activities of the Council.  This included reflection on how the Committee presents information to the membership and the wider public. The next meeting will be on 7 October at which strategic priorities for CPHC will be set.

Contact Iain Phillips for further information.

CPHC Conferences and CPHC AGM

The 2013 conference was held at Cardiff Metropolitan University on 25/26 March.  Materials, presentations, biographies, etc. now available.

The 2013 AGM was held during the conference. Papers are available from the members area of the CPHC web site.

Iain Phillips, Sally Smith and Lachlan MacKinnon have entered the second years of their terms of office as chair, vice chair and immediate past chair respectively. Carsten Maple and David Duce were elected as treasurer and secretary respectively for two year terms of office. Vic Grout (Glyndwr), Colin Johnson (Kent) and Rupert Ward (Huddersfield) joined the committee for the first time for 2 year terms of office. Committee.

The 2014 conference will be held at Loughborough University on 7-8 April 2014. Members are invited to pass suggestions for topics for the conference to the chair, Iain Phillips.

Contact David Duce for further information.

Research Activities

The Committee are in the process of commissioning new research on attrition rates.

Contact Carsten Maple for further details.

Computing At School

CPHC is working with the British Computer Society Academy and with the Computing At School (CAS) working group to promote this activity. We have committed £20k from our membership and committee funds.  Simon Humphreys is working on the plan to spend it.  This plan has been complicated by the government investment in the CAS programme.  However, there should be some movement soon.

CAS would like to have a representative from each Computer Science Department in the Country.

Below is the current list of expected duties for this position.  As this is a somewhat long (and probably not exhaustive list) it will be a matter for HoDs to allocate staff time to this role. CPHC will help facilitate this.  However, we need to find the correct way to do this.

  • working alongside Regional Coordinator, Master Teachers, Lead Schools, CAS hub et al to help coordinate CPD offerings in the area and be willing to see opportunities that they are best placed to provide esp for subject knowledge
  • be willing to be contacted by teachers via email/phone as a rudimentary ‘help line’ if teacher have ad hoc questions re subject knowledge
  • be willing to speak, or find others to speak, at local hub meetings
  • offer university facilities to host hub meetings or CPD sessions
  • use university mailing list of local schools
  • promote hub meetings and master teacher or lead school sessions to local schools
  • introduce schools they are in contact with to CAS and NoE and encourage participation
  • offer speakers from their departments to local schools for lunch-time sessions for pupils
  • offer students (under- or post-graduate) to work with pupils and schools e.g. after school clubs activities, classroom support for GCSE/A Level classes
  • provide CPD (CS subject knowledge specifically) either as whole day, weekend, evening classes
  • work with local master teachers to collaborate on either/both of master teacher CPD and university led CPD
  • provide peer review service of master teacher and lead school CPD

Contact Iain Phillips for further information.

Information Group

The Information Group is driving forward with an initiative to provide members with new subject-specific research to help them develop strategies for implementation at a local level. It is expected that the information will also assist CPHC in lobbying activities. Edmund Robinson (QMUL) and Rupert Ward (Huddersfield) have joined the working group. Other members of the group are Carsten Maple (Bedfordshire) and Liz Bacon (Greenwich).

Contact Carsten Maple or Liz Bacon for further details.

Learning Development Group

Survey of Computing Student Engagement (SCSE)
This ran from January to May 2013 with 13 pilot institutions, 8 of which gathered data for a total of 519 participants. Analysis is on-going, and there will be a meeting for feedback from the pilot institutions later in July. Following that  the survey will be amended as appropriate with a view to offering it to all CS Departments in 2014.

Since we started this initiative there has been something of an explosion in student engagement surveys. Whilst we believe SCSE is still a useful and valuable disciplinary exercise, we will also consider the added value of offering the associated Faculty survey alongside.

Contact Sally Fincher for further information.

Enterprise & Entrepreneurship in the Undergraduate CS Curriculum

Sally Fincher and Liz Burd organised a one-day workshop on 1 March 2013. Resources generated by the workshop are available, for now, on the old site at These include slides of the presentations, summaries of discussion and details of Enterprise & Entrepreneurship modules offered by a range of institutions, presented in a standard template which includes answers to questions about content, context within courses and assessment strategies. This should be a very valuable reference resource for people contemplating offering such modules as well as for institutions already doing so.

Contact Sally Fincher for further information.

Scottish Group

e-Placement Scotland
Funded by the Scottish Funding Council, e-Placement Scotland is a Scotland-wide computing placement project which is now entering its fourth year. The project works with employers to create paid placements for students in any university and any college in Scotland. 53% of the employers providing placements are SMEs. They have just produced an executive summary showing data on the lengths of placement, salaries, student year of study etc. Please contact for a copy.

The Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance
SICSA  our collaboration of Scottish Universities around Informatics and Computer Science research and education has just held its 5th annual PhD conference at Stirling University and is holding a new lecturer induction day on 11th October at Dundee University.

Contact Sally Smith for further details.

Welsh Group

The most recent meeting of the Council of Heads of Computing in Wales/Cyngor Penaethiaid Cyfrifiadura Cymru (CPCC) was held on Thursday 16th May 2013 at the newly formed ‘Swansea Metropolitan, University of Wales: Trinity St David’.  (Another is scheduled for Thursday 19th September 2013 at Cardiff Metropolitan University.) Highlights to report:

The Welsh University Situation
The University of South Wales is now a recognised entity and has received £24M from HEFQW to support the transition.  However this had not been able to avoid a large number of  redundancies at the original institutions.  In the course of his CPHC Conference opening keynote, Leighton Andrews, Welsh Minister for Education (as was), had implied that Welsh HE reconfiguration was work completed and that it was ‘time to move on’.  It would be possible to conclude that further mergers between Welsh universities could be off the agenda.

Welsh Schools ICT Curriculum
The Welsh Education Minister, Leighton Andrews (as was), had set up a Welsh ICT Steering Group with supposedly wide representation although this did not include CPCC.  This oversight was raised with key members of the group.   £3M has now been allocated to form the new ‘Hwb’ initiative in Wales.  A separate £400K has been allocated each year for the next three years to support the training/upskilling of teachers in Wales and, by a conservative estimate, CS might get £200k of this each year.  In a similar vein to England, the schools’ ICT curriculum in Wales will be renamed Computing and additional PCGEs are to be supported in Computer Science.  CS is to be promoted as the 4th science in Wales and made core through all key stages.  Additional support will be encouraged through CPD, teacher training, the CAS Network of Excellence, Welsh industry and the Welsh CAS hubs.

Again, in line with England, there will be particular emphasis on computational problem-solving, related skills and interdisciplinarity. The ICT Steering Group’s draft report will be submitted to DFES in June and is planned to be published in July.  The next Technocamps/CAS Wales conference will take place in Swansea on July 5th.

HPC Wales
The High-Performance Computing Wales facility was now effectively fully-operational although this has taken to half-way through the project life-cycle to achieve this.  Swansea University are making good use of HPC Wales with specialist modules being supported.  Glyndŵr have a specialist MSc in HPC and are also drawing on HPC Wales provision.  Most Welsh universities, including Cardiff, Cardiff Metropolitan and SMUoWTSD have some material using HPCW.

Directory of Welsh HE Programmes
In an attempt to coordinate Welsh provision, a ‘Directory of Welsh HE programmes’ has been collated for general release.  Initially full-time, this has now been extended to part-time.

Contact Ian Wells or Vic Grout for further details.

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