Yup, you read that right. Computer Science and coding is going to be on the Leaving Cert from next year onwards. The news brought to us by Richard Bruton brought a sigh of relief to all of us here as we think it’s about time we start to teach the next generation these skills which are becoming more and more important in the techno logic world we now live in.

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Hows it going to work?

The new subject will be taught from September 2018 and initially 40 schools around Ireland have been selected to trail run this initiative with the first Leaving Cert exam to take place in 2020. The exam itself will be 30% project work and 70% final exam, which doesn’t sound too bad to me personally. Look, we all had that one subject we hated in school and for me Computer Science on the Leaving Cert would have been far more beneficial versus oh I don’t know Irish or Religion (personal pet peeve subjects because I was awful).

Anyway, I digress, here is what Richard Bruton had to say:

“There is a digital revolution taking place, which is having a transformative effect on our economy, workplace, and lifestyle. In order to be the best in Europe, our education system must respond to these changes,” Mr Bruton said.

“The introduction of this new subject will teach our young people flexible, solution-oriented thinking. It will teach them to be creative, adaptable learners,” he said.

The announcement is only one of a range of actions the Minister hopes to make in this area as he aims to create the best eduction service in Europe by 2026. A big part of this plan will be practical subjects that enhance problem solving skills as well as developing real world skills sets. In comparison to the Leaving Certs of my day which was essentially a memory test. Seriously remember the booklet of pre written English and Irish essays we all had stashed away in the hope the theme of Romeo and Juliet came up on the exam. Ah the good ole days….. making way for better days we think.

A generation of computer genius’

Maybe, hopefully, well more thank likely but to be honest they will all probably be better in a year or two than any of us could hope to be. This current crop of students will learn about programming languages and how to read, write, test and modify computer programs. Interestingly Computer Science in the Leaving Cert will include being thought computational thinking, creative design and how to analyse problems in computational terms. Now that’s a big change for any one who has ever sat the exams, creativity and thinking in the one place? Tis a long way from the shut up and listen approach we all had.

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Students will also be learning how to design computational artefacts such as web pages, digital animations, simulations, games, apps and robotics. Ya, Robotics in school!

The reason for all of this is to teach the next generation a vital set of skills as well as understanding how computational thinking can be used to solve problems. How technology has had an impact on human life will also be covered, but sure we got that pretty much down, God forbid the day something Dean or I writes ending up on a Leaving Cert exam.

As I said the first round of exams will be sat in 2020 with next years fifth year students taking the plunge.The main end-of-course exam will be computer-based and worth 70% of the marks. The other 30% will be course work or project similiar to TCG, Wordwork or any of them subject but the difference here is it could be a web page, digital animation, game, simulation, app or robotic system. Please please please let me see some teenager created robots, that I want to see.

What does this mean going forward?

It means that getting kids involved in programs such as CoderDojo is now more relevant than ever as skill is more important than memory we can give the next generation a headstart and develop computer skills from an early age. In the past we even mentioned a few toys and gadgets that could help teach coding from an early age. For now we just hope the current batch of transition years have been getting some coding practise. Who knows one of these young guns may fancy joining team Goos3D in a couple years. After their Leaving Cert of course.

By the way here are the list of 40 schools that have been selected to test out the new Computer Science Leaving Cert program. If you know anyone in these schools who will be doing the subject next year we would love to hear from them.

The selected schools are:

Abbey Vocational School, Donegal

Adamstown Community College, Dublin

Breifne College, Cavan

Bush Post Primary School, Dundalk

Carrigaline Community School, Cork

Castleblayney College, Monaghan

Christ King Girls Secondary School, Cork

Clongowes Wood College, Kildare

Coláiste an Chraoibhin, Fermoy

Coláiste Bríde, Dublin 22

Coláiste Chiaráin, Croom

Coláiste Choilm, Ballincollig

Coláiste Mhuire, Mullingar

Coláiste na Ríochta, Listowel

Coláiste Phadraig, Lucan, Co Dublin

Coláiste Pobail Setanta, Dublin 15

Creagh College, Gorey

Dominican College Sion Hill, Dublin

Ennistymon Vocational School, Co Clare

Gaelcholáiste Mhuire AG, North Monastery, Cork

Le Chéile Secondary School, Dublin 15

Loreto College, Swords

Luttrellstown Community College, Dublin 15

Mayfield Community School, Cork

Moate Community School, Co Westmeath

Mount Sion CBS, Waterford

Mount Temple Comprehensive, Dublin

Presentation Secondary School, Clonmel

Rice College, Westport

Sacred Heart, Clonakilty

St Eunan’s College, Letterkenny

St Aidan’s Comprehensive, Cootehill

St Brigid’s Mercy, Tuam

St Joseph’s, Rush, Co Dublin

St Mary’s CBS, Enniscorthy

St Vincent’s, Dundalk

St Finian’s Community College, Swords

Stratford College, Dublin 6

Synge Street CBS, Dublin; Terenure College, Dublin.

Whoa there! While We have you…