British Computer Society
The British Computer Society, rebranded as BCS - The Chartered Institute for IT since 2009, is a learned society that represent those working in the field of information technology. Established in 1957, BCS is governed by a Royal Charter. BCS is licensed by the Engineering Council to award Chartered Engineer status (CEng) and Incorporated Engineer status (IEng). The Institute also has a licence from the Science Council to award Chartered Scientist status (CSci).
Lobbying for computing (and more computers) in schools
In 2011, BCS was a leading organisation in a coalition, which included Microsoft, Google and Computing At School (CAS), that successfully lobbied for the introduction of computing on the curriculum in England. Computing at School is described as a 'grassroots style’ organisation, but which is funded by BCS, Microsoft, Google, BT, IBM, HP, Toshiba, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, GE, RBS and many others.
BCS, Google, Microsoft and Computing at School met with ministers and officials, talked to Lords and MPs on Parliament’s Education Committee and enlisted third parties to back their case, including ‘captains of industry’; every head teacher was urged to support the cause; Microsoft and Google were among those who chipped in for a study by the Royal Society, the oldest and most prestigious of the science academies, to support the campaign to get computing onto the curriculum.
It was a concerted, well-organised effort, which was fully documented by BCS and reproduced below:
Lobbying of the Department for Education:
- 'Since January 2011 BCS Academy and CAS have had a series of over nine meetings with Department for Education officials, leading up to a meeting in December 2012 with Dominic Cummings, a special advisor to Michael Gove. That meeting included Ian Livingstone co-author of the Livingstone Hope review, as well as representatives from Microsoft, Google, Raspberry Pi and Coding for Kids. The following month Michael Gove gave his ground breaking speech at BETT in support of Computer Science. These meetings have significantly contributed to the fact that DfE accept Computing is a rigorous academic subject distinct from ICT that good schools should teach. BCS Academy with CAS and Microsoft also met with Nick Gibb (Minister responsible for the National Curriculum) in August to discuss the possibility of Computing within the National Curriculum Review.'
Lobbying of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills:
- 'BCS with Council of Professors and Heads of Computing, UK Computing Research Committee and Microsoft Research met with David Willetts (Science Minister at the Department for Business Innovation and Science) in February  to discuss Computing education in school and university. At our meeting he recognised the importance of Computing education in benefitting the economy and encouraged engagement with the DfE to discuss how Computing would fit into the school curriculum. David Willetts recently announced a new pilot scheme to introduce computer programming into schools through employer led projects, which is known as the Behind the Screen project. The project is being run by e-Skills UK and was established by Lord Lucas.
- Together with CAS, Nesta, UKIE, the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, the efforts of BCS Academy have helped to raise awareness of the Computing issue at a senior level in Google. We believe these efforts were a contributory factor to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s widely reported comment that he was ‘flabbergasted’ we do not teach Computer Science in school.
- In June, Matt Brittin, Managing Director UK & Ireland Operations Google, agreed to sign a letter to Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Education), in which he endorsed the BCS position that Computing education is essential for all pupils in secondary schools. This letter was signed by a number of prominent captains of industry and the text of the letter is included below together with a list of the other signatories.
- Since then Naomi Gummer and Sarah Hunter of UK Public Policy at Google have been working to actively raise the issue of Computing both within Google and to government. David Harper, Head EMEA University Relations at Google, has also been working with BCS Academy and CAS and was also a member of the Royal Society Advisory group for the Computing in Schools study.
Letter to Michael Gove:
A letter was sent to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education in June 2011, petitioning him to support computing in schools.It is described by BCS as providing the 'catalyst leading to a dialogue' with the government. It was signed by:
- Matt Brittin, Managing Director UK & Ireland Operations Google UK
- Dr Hermann Hauser, Venture Capitalist and co-Founder of Amadeus Capital Partners (appointed by the Prime Minister to the Council for Science and Technology)
- Dr Andrew Herbert, Chairman Microsoft Research EMEA
- Ian Livingstone, Life President Eidos and Chair Computer Games Skills Council
- Keith Williams, Managing Director Altran Praxis, Global Executive Director - Embedded & Critical Systems Altran
- Alex Hope, Managing Director Double Negative, Board Director of the UK Screen Association
- Andy Mulholland, Corporate Vice President & Global Chief Technology Officer Capgemini Group
- John Lazar, Chairman Metaswitch
- [[David Docherty, Chief Executive of the Council For Industry and Higher Education, and Chairman of the Digital Television Group.
- Hasan Bakhshi, Director Creative Industries Nesta
- John Higgins, Director General Intellect
- David Clarke, Chief Executive BCS
Collaboration with other groups
BCS lists key collaborations that helped to promote the value of Computing education in schools:
- Royal Society: BCS Academy played a key role in ensuring sufficient funds were raised on time for the Royal Society in order for them to begin a study into Computing in school. The study had the support from 24 organisations, including the Royal Academy of Engineering, BCS Academy of Computing, CPHC (The Council of Professors and Heads of Computing), Google, Microsoft Research, IBM and many of the UK’s leading universities. The Chair of the BCS Academy, the BCS Academy Director, the Chairman of CAS and the CAS Coordinator were members of the Advisory Group. The report Computing in Schools: Shut down or restart? was published in January 2012.
- Nesta: 'BCS Academy and CAS actively promoted the importance of Computing in school with Nesta during the Livingstone-Hope Skills Review of the Video Games and Visual Effects industries. This review was called for by Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries. BCS Academy and CAS directly contributed to the two main school recommendations in the report.'
Background note on the Livingstone-Hope Skills Review and Nesta:
The government commissioned a six-month study the Livingstone-Hope Skills Review on the future skills needed in the gaming industry was funded by the gaming lobby group UKIE, of which Microsoft is a member, with the support of Google, TalkTalk, Facebook, the IT lobby group Intellect, BCS, the Education Foundation and others like the Guardian Media Group. Gaming was used as a poster boy for the skills review because of its status as a ‘high-profile rock’n’roll industry’, said the head of UKIE, Ian Livingstone. In reality the campaign was acting in the interests of this ‘broad coalition’. The review was run under the auspices of the Nesta.
Its ‘landmark’ report, Next Gen., made a number of recommendations. First was that computer science be included on the national schools curriculum. Next was to train a new generation of teachers to teach it. But third on the wish list was that video games be used across science, technology, engineering and maths lessons to draw pupils into these subjects. This was followed by a call for a central repository for teachers of the best video games for use in classrooms – in essence, a marketing tool – and more training for teachers in how to use them.
Despite an acknowledgement that Britain’s gaming industry was primarily losing business to international competition because of higher costs, fewer public subsidies and a lack of investment in universities, schools reform was considered vital. The report played up the benefits of video games to teach, while ignoring the mixed results from the few trials conducted. Next Gen. appears, therefore, as a lobbying tool for technology firms with a clear, vested interest in digitising learning, as well as enthusing a new generation of coders. As if to underline its role in kick-starting an ed-tech revolution in schools, Nesta, supported by the same coalition of technology interests, followed up with a series of reports, all of which called for more technology to teach and strongly advocated the need to redesign education on digital lines.
Trustee Board Members
As of 2013:
- Roger Marshall FBCS CITP - President, Chair
- Professor Elizabeth Bacon CEng CSci FBCS CITP - Deputy President
- Robert Harvey CEng FBCS CITP - Immediate Past President; Senior Trustee
- Michael Cooper FBCS - Vice-President Finance
- Iain Thompson CEng FBCS CITP - Vice President Membership
- Dr Tom Abram FBCS CITP - Vice-President Trustee Director, BCS Learning & Development Ltd
- Ken Olisa OBE FBCS CITP - Vice-President Trustee Director and Chair, BCS Learning & Development Ltd
- Chris Andrews CEng MBCS CITP
- Dr Tom Crick MBCS
- Professor James Davenport FBCS CITP
- Dr Roger Johnson CEng FBCS CITP
- Maggie Kneller CEng FBCS CITP
- President - Roger Marshall FBCS CITP
- Deputy President and Chair BCS Academy of Computing - Prof Elizabeth Bacon CEng CSci FBCS CITP
- Immediate Past President - Robert Harvey CEng FBCS CITP
- Past President - Jim Norton FREng FBCS CITP
- Vice-President Policy and Public Affairs - Ken Olisa OBE, FBCS CITP
- Vice-President Finance - Michael Cooper FBCS
- Vice-President Membership - Iain Thompson CEng FBCS CITP
- Vice-President - Dr Tom Abram FBCS CITP
- Chief Executive - David Clarke MBE, FBCS CITP
- Chair of Council - Dr Roger Johnson CEng FBCS CITP
- Vice-Chair of Council - Kevin Streater FBCS CITP
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