St Vincent’s selected as pilot school for Leaving Certificate Computer Science

December 8, 2017

St Vincent’s Secondary School has been selected as one of the 40 pilot schools nationally to be part of the phased introduction of Computer Science as a subject in Leaving Certificate.  Being part of the pilot means that Computer Science will be offered to 5th year students in St Vincent’s commencing September 2018.   

The staff and students have been preparing for this is a significant development since 2015.  Coding was introduced on the timetable for all first and TY students in September 2015.  The St Vincent’s 1st year Coding curriculum introduces students to the basics of coding with Scratch and Swift.  In Transition Year students develop these skills further by learning CSS, HTML, programming with BBC Microbits and completing mini physical computing projects such as programming a fan, a stepper or a compass using inventors kits.  Students also have the opportunity to code using iPads and Sphero and Lego Boost robots.  In October, St Vincent’s were one of five schools selected from 500 applications by Google to receive funding as part of EU Code Week.  As part of this TY students led coding workshops for local primary schools.  467 local primary school students took part in these workshops.

The teachers involved in coding have engaged in continuous professional development over the last number of years and have attended many coding and computer science events with the Computer Education Society in Ireland and in NUI Maynooth.  They have also developed links with the Bridge 21 Programme in Trinity College.  Most recently, they attended an event in Apple Headquarters in Cork where they took part in robotics workshops, App development with Xcode and Swift.  

Therefore, choosing computer science will be a natural progression for many students in St Vincent’s.  In conjunction with Professor Brendan Tangney from the Trinity it is planned to hold a series of talks on women in software engineering so that students and their parents are fully informed of the many career opportunities there are for students who pursue studies in Computer Science.  There will also be an opportunity for parents and students to meet with Anna Walsh from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment to discuss the syllabus and the assessment structure for Leaving Cert. The Computer Science Curriculum aims to develop and foster creativity and problem solving, as well as promoting both independent and group work.  The assessment will be made up of a final leaving certificate examination worth 70% and coursework worth 30% of the total Leaving Cert Grade.  The draft specification is available on the NCCA website (ncca.ie).