Thursday, 29 August 2013

Sector Panel meeting

The Sector Panel for Computing & IT met today. The Panel meets once per year to provide advice and support to me and my team about strategic developments in the sector. There was an excellent attendance today, with 18 people attending, representing schools, colleges, universities, training providers, employers, IT vendors, and professional bodies.

We have recently expanded the membership of the Panel to try to get more diverse views, and today's meeting certainly achieved that goal. There was lively debate around a number of issues such as employment trends, CPD needs of Computing teachers, e-learning, digital literacy, and Modern Apprenticeships, among many other topics.

We had a particularly interesting discussion about CPD for teachers in colleges. The new HN awards are state-of-the-art in terms of their contents and several college representatives reported problems ensuring that teachers were able to deliver the new units. One of the actions I will take forward is to report this concern to those agencies with special responsibility for CPD in the college sector.

We also had a good conversation about Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) compared with "open solutions" to e-learning that utilise social meda.

It was good to hear the employer representatives so up-beat about the demand for Computing staff now and in the future. A number of recent reports have commented on the shortage of skilled IT staff. It was also heartening to hear college representatives report huge demand for places on their Computing courses.

Chris Morrow of E-Skills UK is a member of the Panel and told the meeting that he is leaving E-Skills in September. Chris has been a good friend of SQA over the years and will be missed.

The Sector Panel is not a talk shop. After every meeting we create an "action list" that we work through to ensure that the Panel makes a real contribution to the sector.

I plan to change the name of the Panel from "Computing and Information Technology" to just "Computing" to reflect the change in terminology that I have previously described.

We're always looking for new members of the Panel so please contact Caroline if you would like to know more about its work and consider joining it. Although the Panel only physically meets once per year, we use social media to keep in touch throughout the year so it's a great way of finding out what's going on in the sector and contributing to the work of SQA.

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