CAS East Midlands Newsletter    December 2015
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Dear CAS member,


Nottingham Trent University (NTU) has successfully led the Computing at School (CAS) East Midlands Hub for 3 years, pro-actively building membership and co-ordinating a range of successful events from full day conferences to twilight workshops, which are valued by a membership of over 300 teachers.  Our commitment to computing and supporting the development of computing in schools is further reflected in our range of Initial Teacher Education courses for pre-service computing teachers, and an innovative Masters course, MSc Computing in Education, aimed specifically at teachers. We have also delivered CAS Master Teacher training for the last 2 years.  In addition we have part-time PhD students who are researching into developing technologies such as ‘I think, therefore I compute’ An investigation into developing a pedagogical framework for computational thinking; and An investigation into how the KS3 and KS4 computing curriculum is implemented in different types of schools in Leicester.

Our staff team who support the CAS CRC are active nationally in developing the computing curriculum and sit on various national committees such as Teaching Schools Technology Advisory Board, Expert Group, Education Technology Action Group and the Association for Information Technology in Teacher Education.  We are also working with local schools on a European Horizon 2020 project, No-one Left Behind, with schools in the United Kingdom, Austria and Spain to develop gaming to enhance pupil’s computational proficiency, creativity and social skills. Email us at

Upcoming Events

26th January 2016. 13:30-16:00 (approx finishing time) 
OCR Subject Expert Visit: New GCSE and A-level Computer Science Specifications

Nottingham Trent University
The Computer Science Subject Experts from OCR are visiting to discuss the new GCSE Computer Science Specification, and the new A-level Specification.  The meeting will start at 1:30 with the A-level specification, followed by a break for refreshments and then the GCSE Computer Science specification. 
Details on EventBrite booking will follow shortly.
11th January 2016, 16:00 - 17:00pm 
Coding Playground

Burton Joyce Primary School
This free event will showcase the latest and greatest iPad coding apps and iPad programmable toys.  Get hands on at this practical event and learn how to use each app and device.  This course is suitable for EYFS, KS1 and KS2 teachers, teaching assistants and ICT leaders.
Visit for more information.
Click here for tickets
1st January 2016. 16:00 - 17:30 
Early Years and iPads

Burton Joyce
The Early Years and iPads evening at The Apple Regional Training Centre, Nottingham is a free workshop aimed at staff working in the foundation stage.  Teachers, Teaching Assistants, School Leaders and nursery staff are welcome to attend this free event where you will see how to use a variety of content creation apps appropriate for early years children to meet and even exceed the early learning goals.  You will learn how to organise activities and gain advice from staff who have been using iPads in early years for several years.
Visit for more information.
Click here for tickets
29th February 2016. 16:00 - 17:30 
Guided Reading with iPad: Using Teacher Authored Texts

Burton Joyce
In this practical workshop you will learn a quick and easy way to create levelled non-fiction books on an iPad.  Using Book Creator Marc will walk you through a simple way to write your first levelled non-fiction text and duplicate his book to then adapt copies for other reader's next steps.  As these books are written by the teacher, they can be personalised to children's interests and their own next steps.  Children then read the books in interest groups rather than ability groups during guided reading.
Visit for more information.
Click here for tickets
Other Upcoming Events
Future courses are currently being arranged, details will be sent out as soon as the bookings are confirmed, these include;
  • Crumble training
  • Half-day session on Python
  • Progression in Primary Programming
  • Unplugged Computing
  • Progressive programming through years 1-6
  • CAS Hub, Thursday 10th March, 4:55-7:30
Code Club at Firfield
Jasjit Kaur Atwal is a GP with three children, currently on a career break.  She is a Code Club volunteer and School Governor at Firfield Primary School.  Jas has told us how she got involved in Code Club as a parent:
Two summer holidays ago, I was struggling to entertain my two eldest boys, then 7 and 3 and look after my poorly baby girl.  Home alone with three children, with my youngest needing a lot of my attention, I did not want the boys to be stuck in front of the TV all day and I was seeking activities that would stimulate making skills, problem solving and persistence.
At our local library, I came across a book called “Computer Coding for Kids” by Carol Vorderman that gave a wonderful, step by step guide on what coding actually was ( I had always wondered…) and how to actually get started.  Despite my lack of technical knowledge, that I was secretly embarrassed about, I was able to get started with Scratch initially and soon the boys and I were absolutely hooked.  I was then getting stuck trying to find projects for them at a suitable level to keep their interest and stop frustration…we were lucky enough to have a computer plus internet access at home, but the boys found it tough to share and work together, being at such different levels. 
It occurred to me that not only did I need access to perhaps another computer, I would like to learn more myself so that I could teach them, and perhaps even boost my own career skills.  Being unemployed, I started to think about how I could do all this for free, and on my doorstep.  I started getting in touch with local schools, businesses, councils etc (in order to encourage individuals to form volunteer networks with the idea of getting children coding) and was delighted to come across Code Club that way.  I was invited to the Derby Xmas Meetup in 2014 at the Derby Silk Mill, where I met the inspiring Katharine Childs (East Midlands Regional Co-ordinator for Code Club), and have not looked back since!
Hearing about Code Club, I really wanted one for my children!  I tried to interest local schools and libraries but to no avail, at that time.  I was a bit despondent about this for a while, but then it occurred to me that if I wanted it so badly, I would have to find a way to do it myself.  I would need a venue, some more volunteers and enough computers.  It was still slow progress and I had a very bad case of imposter syndrome, especially as I had no computing or teaching experience and I felt that it would not be credible for me to teach kids to code using Scratch.
For a good long time, I really doubted myself but I persisted.   I even took a course via an online learning platform called edX entitled ‘Programming in Scratch’ offered by Harvey Mudd College (  This was a wonderful course to do and really boosted my confidence.  In fact, my now 9 yr old son has taken it and attained a higher score than I did! 
This Summer, we both attended Young Rewired State’s Festival of Code 2015, him as a participant and I, as a parent volunteer, to find out more.  It was a challenging but incredibly enjoyable experience and since we have felt more at home in the digital making community.  We went on to volunteer at ‘Kids Remix’, run by Open Community Lab and hosted by Birmingham Open Media where we hosted a scratch stall on behalf of Code Club.
But why did I persist in an area where I had little knowledge and subsequently little influence?  Because I think an education in computational thinking is vital for all of our children and for future citizenry.    As a parent, I can also see that digital too often means passive consumption.   We all worry about too much screen time and the addictive nature of screens and worry that our children know more about these things than we do.  I feel that it is time that parents became more confident in the digital sphere that our children so fearlessly parade around, so that we can better guide and protect them, but also inspire them, empower them, to be creator-makers. 
Despite the new National Curriculum, I noticed that schools were slow on the uptake with the newly introduced ‘fourth science’ and soon realised that there was a lack of confidence in Computing across the board.  Individual schools had other keen priorities that conflicted with delivering on the new curriculum.
I wanted to do something to support our excellent, hard-pressed teachers so I set about trying to see where I might have some influence…in the school playground, perhaps?  I plucked up my courage and started to let other parents know that this was what I was trying to do…did they know of anybody who had skills to share?  Soon enough, people were talking about coding in the school playground and I found enthusiasm and shared geekery in Amanda Coffee and Ian Williams.   Both also parents at the same school but with computing, social media and teaching experience and a wealth of volunteer spirit and expertise that by far exceeded mine.  They took my fumbling attempts at starting a Code Club and really lifted them, for which I am very grateful. 
Together, we have formed a small parents’ group called ‘codeFirfield’, whose aim is to support coding for kids and parents at school.    We have an active Facebook group where we share information, ideas and encouragement on computing for parents and provide computing information for our school’s website.  Each codeFirfield member also has access to a magazine entitled ‘Kids, Coding and Computer Science’  Please feel free to join us and share your enthusiasm and expertise!
By working with our school, eventually, also by becoming a School Governor, I have come to understand the school’s priorities better and have been able to roll with what initially seemed like resistance or slow uptake to  better align myself to provide support via Code Club.
We have been running our club for six weeks now with three parent volunteers, one teacher and sixteen children.  We have at least three other mums wanting to get more involved and there is considerable interest on the school playground, with people finding out about Scratch and going off to get started on their own.  We do hope to offer a Scratch workshop for parents soon and will be going in to do a presentation for teachers one INSET day.  After Christmas, we are planning to start a second club as well as continue with our original intake.
We will be providing voluntary support to the teachers in planning and delivering Computing lessons as well as looking into raising money and advising on the purchase of new devices, perhaps Raspberry Pis.  As a CAS member, I have been lucky enough to receive micro:bit training, so that when the dear little things arrive in schools (Code Club will have some allocated - yay!) we will be able to get stuck in with the excellent material already provided by BBC Make It Digital.
Amanda and I will be soon be embarking on an online course in Python ( )  for which we have found another school mum (a secondary school computing teacher who has already taken the course!) willing to mentor us.  We hope we can support the children therefore in Python and HTML and CSS and we have ambitions to set up a computing club for parents as well, currently a fair bit of interest!
It has been really wonderful to share what started off as a family hobby with our school and local community.   I love helping out at my childrens’ school and I know that this has generated a lot of excitement for kids, parents and teachers alike which gives me a great feeling.   Aside from making space for children to get digitally creative, we have sparked interest within other parents and teachers, who may not necessarily have felt that this was for them.  I love myth busting.
Aside from all of that… what is next?  Well, I am looking forward to get my daughter involved once she is old enough!
Jasjit Atwal, Code Club Coordinator at Firfield Primary School, Breaston
Visit Firfield's Code Club blog here.
Code Club

Code Club have just released some space-themed Scratch projects and activities to help celebrate the launch of the rockets which will be taking British astronaut Tim Peake and some Astro-Pi code to join the International Space Station. These resources are available free to all schools and you can find out more on our blog at:

If you are a primary school who would like to find out more about starting a Code Club in your school, or a secondary school who would like to support a cluster of primaries, please contact Katharine Childs at

Katharine Childs, Code Club

East Midlands Regional CAS Hub
It may have been cold outside but the atmosphere at the East Midlands regional CAS hub event on Thursday 10th November was filled with excitement. With over 60 primary and secondary teachers, workshops focused on both subject and pedagogical knowledge relating to all areas of the national curriculum.  There were 5 Secondary focused workshop with guest speakers included Remi Gauvin who ran a session on raphberry pi's, Dan Copeman & Steve Coper who focused on programming, Dave Abbott looked at bridging the gap between Scratch and Python, Dan Ward and Dan Wood compared some algorithms and Adam Hounslow-Eyre talked about Audience Response Systems.  Yvonne Walker also ran a double session on Primary QuickStart Computing. The night was ended on a high with a coding playground, complete with robots and drones run by Marc Faulder who is an EYS teacher and an approved Apple Distinguished Educator.
Overall the event was a roaring success. The next East Midlands CAS hub will be held on 10th March 2016. The agenda has already been filled and should you wish to book, keep an eye on the CAS community eventbrite from February 10th. 
Rachael Blazewicz-Bell, Nottingham Trent University
CAS North Leicester Primary Hub
During this CAS hub meeting, we focussed on the use of input and output to investigate how computers can control devices connected to them.  This is an area that often gets taught at KS1 using robots, such as Beebots and Romers, and can be more problematic at KS2 simply because it requires some equipment for children to be able to control!

Fortunately, we had some experienced educators to help us look at some of the equipment available for control.
Dr. Jo Badge, Rushly Mead Primary School.

For the full report, visit the CAS North Leicestershire blog here.
Alice Jam
Alice Jam takes place from the 7th to 13th December.

The theme is all about Alice in Wonderland, to celebrate 150 years of this book.  Students will need to create their own game and story about Alice's adventures.  This can be as an individual, or in teams of up to four people.

The game can be built using Scratch, or a free "Pocket Code" app and all submitted work will be published on the Alice Jam website "Wall of Fame".

Visit to find out how take part and watch the promo trailer here.
BBC Micro:bit roadshows
BBC Micro:bit roadshows are taking place this term;
  • 14th January, Durham
  • 15th January, Dudley
  • 5th February, Dartford
  • 11th February, High Wycombe
For more information, or to book your place visit;
CAS East Midlands Raspberry Pis
Have you tried to use the CAS East Midland Raspberry PIs?
They are easy to borrow, they come with a power supply each, a HDMI cable (with a DVI adapter on request). My students were reasonably good at setting them up and then at returning the class to its normal state. I could get a good half an hour of PI activity from a one hour lesson, more if I played my timetable right.
Setting up a computer is not something that students get the chance to do very often, so this was part of their learning, and as soon as one pair had theirs working, the class got more excited.
Now, what PI activity could you teach in half a lesson?
I chose to do something that cannot be done with school PCs, and the resources are on CAS if you are interested:
My year 9 students took control of one of the PI LEDs. After the frustration of mis-typing commands in the terminal, the excitement level went up a notch as soon as the first pair succeeded in taking control of one LED on the PI itself. A few managed to write a python program - with no prior knowledge of python.
Older students created a network of Raspberry PIs using an old ethernet switch and a handful of cable. With my KS5, we started to add different servers on this network. Come revision time, I will know that having given them the chance to get their hands dirty will help their understanding of these topics.
All in all, most of the effort was creating the resources and ensuring the students tidied up after themselves. The benefits were that half our year 9 cohort got to do a hands on computer science activity that I will be able to recall before they choose their options, and the KS5 students have got experience of the benefits of DHCP and of setting up their own web server. And I got an article into the school newsletter. Given the chance, I would do it again - but I must troubleshoot that PI streaming server first!
Remi Gauvain, Chase Terrace Technology College

If you would like to borrow our set of Raspberry PIs, for a single lesson, or project, please get in touch.
Year 9 students check their programming skills at Chase Terrace Technology College (CTTC)
CAS East Midlands Equipment
The CAS East Midlands Regional Centre (Nottingham Trent University, Clifton Campus) will soon have a range of equipment that teachers and schools can book to take out on loan. These can be booked in advance, and from a couple of days to several weeks, subject to availability.  
The final equipment should be arriving in January and will be available for booking soon after.

The equipment includes;
  • Raspberry Pi's (Small set of 5, medium of 15 and full class of 25)
  • Crumble starter kit
  • Sparkles (5 strip LEDs for use with Crumble)
  • Short crocodile leads (12, for use with Crumble)
  • Crumble Bot
  • Crumble Robotic Vehicle)

If you are interested in booking any of this equipment, or would just like further information, please email us at
Pi Wars
Pi Wars is a yearly robotics challenge competition that this year took place on the 5th December.  Visit their website to look at the information from this year's competition and to find out how you can get involved next year.
Cisco Little BIG Awards Competition
Competition for STEM Clubs!
Launch Date:  25th November 2015 (join the live launch on line at 12.30-1.00pm) Regional Finals (venue TBA) on 8th – 26th February 2016 - National Finals in London on 10th March 2016
Cisco Little Big Awards
Can you connect the unconnected?
We use the internet every day: on our computers, on tablets and mobile phones. You can watch TV, make phone calls, send photos, and shop - all on the internet.
But even today less than 1% of all things are connected to the internet. What happens when your microwave, your central heating, your car, or even maybe your school workbooks are connected to the internet?

Cisco invites your school to take part in the Little BIG Awards to show us how you think your life could be made better by connecting everyday things together.

Students in years 7 – 9 can take part, working in teams of 3 – 6 pupils. Each school can send one team to their regional final to be held in February 2016 - the school can run internal heats if more students want to get involved.
Winners from the regional finals will be invited to attend a National final at Cisco’s UK Headquarters.
For more information and to register your school go to<>
The Little BIG Awards will help you meet (and hopefully beat) the requirements of the curriculum for Computer Science in KS3 and KS4 Here are some areas that directly relate to the curriculum:
Using operators and logic to make decisions based on inputs Understand networks of computers and how they communicate Handling very large datasets and processing lots of things in parallel Translating things from the human world into things computers can understand STEM Ambassadors will be on hand to visit schools (or connect with them remotely) and to help and provide structured activities along the way.
The Little BIG Awards is a rewarding and exciting way to improve students’ business and life skills, while also being a fun way to cover some academic topics that will help towards formal qualifications. Students will work as a team with assistance from one or more Industry ambassadors to solve a problem; design, develop and prototype a solution; and build a business plan around their idea.

This year, as well as category and overall prizes we expect there will be an additional, separate, prize for innovative use of a BBC micro:bit<> as part of your project.
Cisco Little Big Awards
Hour of Code
This week (7th December) is the Hour of Code, a global movement for all students to have an hour of code.  We would love to hear what you have been doing with your students, please e-mail us with your stories.

If you are still looking for inspiration, try some of these links for ideas;
CAS Teacher Inquiry in Computing Education (TICE) project
The purpose of this project is to provide an opportunity for teachers to meet, share ideas and work on research projects together in the area of Computing. This project will run from October 2015 to June 2016 and will culminate in outputs both in terms of impact on the teachers' professional development by virtue of their engagement with this project, and also the findings from the mini-research projects carried out in the research groups.
Teacher inquiry is a way of empowering teachers to investigate changes in teaching and learning and measure the impact of those changes on their learners, rather than having them dictated to them through other forms of training. It enables teachers to gain confidence in decision making, based upon the needs of their students and schools.  Some teachers work in schools where research is a focus, but many others do not.  A community of practice such as CAS may be able to support a research culture even if the teachers is not fortunate enough to be working in a research-focused school. Being involved with research also develops teachers’ ability to reflect on their pedagogical practice and the learning that is taking place in their classrooms. This is especially important in Computing, where there is not yet a long history of school Computing from which strong pedagogical frameworks have emerged. There is a small amount of existing research about computer science pedagogy but need for much more, so there is an opportunity for teachers to make a valuable contribution to the field as well as developing their own teaching through the reflection involved in inquiry.
Part of participating in the project involves working with others to share ideas and most importantly, share out the workload. It is important to meet and get to know people face-to-face so that ensuing online communication can be maintained readily. Therefore teachers are required to attend for two meetings on October 9th and March 11th, for which they receive some money for release and travel.
The launch meeting will include the following elements:
  • Discussion of research methods
  • Discussion of topics
  • Working to agree on a focus for each person
  • End of session presentations
Some teachers will work in groups on the same research question, using a shared research instrument to try something out then compare results. This introduces to some extent an economy of scale and a larger set of results.
The project represents a partnership between teachers and university researchers. University researchers offer support to teachers as follows:
  • Identifying and scoping the research question
  • Finding relevant reading that supports ideas
  • Helping design a research instrument (that means a questionnaire, test, interview template etc)
  • Helping make sense of the results and present findings
  • Support with documenting the results (this may be a formal write-up but may be a series of journal entries, video diary, or whatever).
For more information contact
Dr Sue Sentance, Computing At School
Code Club Update

Code Club have just released some space-themed Scratch projects and activities to help celebrate the launch of the rockets which will be taking British astronaut Tim Peake and some Astro-Pi code to join the International Space Station. These resources are available free to all schools and you can find out more on our blog at:


If you are a primary school who would like to find out more about starting a Code Club in your school, or a secondary school who would like to support a cluster of primaries, please contact Katharine Childs at

Resources and Equipment
CamJam (Cambridge Raspberry Pi) have launched a new kit; EduKit 3 - Robotics.  This kit provides equipment to build a Raspberry Pi-powered robot and worksheets to take you (and students) through the process.  These kits are retailing at £17.  You can find more information here.

Crumble resources: (Crumble website) (Jeremy's blog explaining the creation of a crumble monster) (Video and resources including 'Crumble Maker cards' (SimpleSi has modified Scratch to control Crumble)


Go-Lab: The Global Online Science Labs for Inquiry Learning at School) has created a pool of online resources, including apps, and online laboratories to use in lessons, supporting inquiry-based learning.  
Visit Go-Lab's website to take part and explore the resources.
CRC Twitter
We would love you hear what Computing work you are doing in your school, please tweet your news stories and include #NTU_CAS_hub and the twitter addresses @CompAtSch and @DrHelenBoulton.
Our mailing address is:
CAS East Midlands, Nottingham Trent University, School of Education, Burton Street, Nottingham. NG1 4BU.

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