Minister for Education Norma Foley TD has announced Ireland’s first-ever Computer Science Week taking place from 8-15 October 2022. 

Welcoming the news, Minister Rabbitte said:

We live in an era where we can look up anything we want to know, and speak to friends and strangers from around the world. Advertisements for products that we do and do not want pop up on our browsers. Notifications bombard our phones—text messages, emails, news, stocks, spam, the scores of sports games. This is the world of the Information Age, with its host of advantages and disadvantages. But what’s next—what’s on the horizon at this very moment—is poised to give humans more powerful tools than ever before, transforming our technology and our lives.

The Knowledge Age: an era in which artificial intelligence empowers, enhances, and facilitates human knowledge. Human knowledge becomes swift, direct, muscular—we will have access to answers rather than questions, conclusions rather than data, truths rather than trends.  This era simultaneously threatens human agency and creativity while building a road towards an advanced and equitable society. Yet above all, the most important thing to understand about the Knowledge Age is that it’s already on the horizon.  And we need to be prepared.  Full stop.

The week’s events will showcase the exciting benefits and cutting edge opportunities of Computer Science for students while shining a light on the impressive developments in classrooms around Ireland.

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Organised by the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) with the support of the Department of Education, the event will provide students with stimulating, interactive opportunities to ‘taste’ the subject, and provide information to students, teachers, guidance counsellors and parents.

Computer Science became a Senior Cycle subject in schools in 2018 and is growing in popularity, with 1,604 students sitting the Leaving Certificate Computer Science examination in 2022.

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Minister Foley said:

Computer Science is an extremely important part of our offering to students, helping to ensure ensuing that they have the skills they need for the modern world.

I would like to thank the school communities pioneering this great work, and the industry partners that investing their energy, expertise and enthusiasm to inspiring, not just the next generation of computer scientists, but all students taking the course, who will progress to many other disciplines where a knowledge of computer science will be of great benefit.

And she continued:

I am particularly delighted that this week will see the launch of a new buddy system, connecting teachers and schools with ‘buddies’ from industry, from other schools and higher and further education.

Buddies will be able to use the online system to register the types of support they can offer, and this will be a great resource for our teachers.

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A national conference to mark Computer Science Week will take place on 13th October in Athlone, with student workshops, exhibitions from industry, as well as project exhibits from primary and post-primary schools. The keynote address at the conference will be delivered by Lorraine Underwood, maker, author and senior teaching associate at Lancaster University. Lorraine’s passion is making physical computing creations to showcase how creative Computer Science can be.

This conference is based on the CS for ALL event hosted by Dr Cornelia Connolly at University of Galway in 2019 and will celebrate the fantastic work being done by Computer Science teachers and young people across the education system, sharing some of the many wonderful examples of country-wide industry-education collaborations and featuring a range of experts highlighting opportunities in the area of computer science.

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The event is open to all (places are limited) and interested parties can register from Eventbrite here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/computer-science-week-2022-national-conference-tickets-422908539827

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The inaugural Computer Science Week programme includes live workshops for schools to be delivered by subject experts, and webinars aimed at parents, guidance counsellors, principals, students and anyone interested in finding out more about computer science – the opportunities it creates and the supports available to schools that are thinking of introducing this fantastic subject as part of their curriculum. More information and a full timetable of events will be published through the PDST computer science twitter account, @PDSTcs using the #csweek hashtag.

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As Computer Science week falls at the same time as EU Code Week, event organisers are encouraged to register their events on the EU Code Week website https://codeweek.eu/.

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A highlight of the week will be the launch of the buddy system – a practical Department of Education initiative designed to support a Computer Science culture in schools – building teacher capacity and confidence to introduce the Leaving Certificate Computer Science curriculum.

An online system will connect teachers and schools with industry ‘buddies’ and third level/further educators who will offer a range of supports for teachers and schools.